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NYC street artists are remaking city on quarantine one mural at a time. Take a look.

NYC street artists are remaking city on quarantine one mural at a time. Take a look.
Artists paint on a boarded-up building amid coronavirus closures and protests in the East Village on June 19, 2020 in New York City.Artists paint on a boarded-up building amid coronavirus closures and protests in the East Village on June 19, 2020 in New York City.
Artists paint on a boarded-up building amid coronavirus closures and protests in the East Village on June 19, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


  • Street artists found new canvases across New York City during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • When restaurants, stores, and museums boarded up their windows, people filled the plywood with words, pictures, and scribbles.
  • Some pieces reflect emotionally charged moments during the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • These photos show what it’s like to walk through the streets of New York City right now, full of murals and messages.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Artists in NYC have found an unconventional canvas around the city during the coronavirus pandemic — boarded-up storefronts. In July, The New York Times reported on colorful mural popping up across the city on the plywood covering stores.

Street art is on display on the boarded-up windows of Sunspel in SoHo on June 20, 2020 in New York City.
Street art is on display on the boarded-up windows of Sunspel in SoHo on June 20, 2020 in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: The New York Times

Many businesses boarded up their windows when they closed for the lockdown, Ben Yakas wrote for the Gothamist.

Street artists are seen working on boarded up buildings amid coronavirus closures and anti-racism protests in SoHo on June 16, 2020 in New York City.
Street artists are seen working on boarded-up buildings amid coronavirus closures and anti-racism protests in SoHo on June 16, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: Gothamist

Some looting broke out in May and June amid Black Lives Matter protests in response to the killing of George Floyd in police custody. To protect their stores, more businesses boarded up their windows. It’s unclear if there is any connection between the vandalism and the protests.

Artists paint on the boarded-up windows of a building in SoHo on June 20, 2020 in New York City.
Artists paint on the boarded-up windows of a building in SoHo on June 20, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: Reuters, Business Insider

Defined by the NYPD as marking up property with “intent to damage,” graffiti is illegal.

Street art featuring the character Bart Simpson is on display on a boarded-up building in SoHo on June 21, 2020 in New York City.
Street art featuring the character Bart Simpson is on display in SoHo on June 21, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: NYPD, The New York Times

A street artist named EASY who painted in the 1980s told The Times that today, it feels safer. Back then, people thought graffiti writers in certain neighborhoods were painting secret messages about endangering others, he said.

Street art is displayed on a boarded up 7-Eleven store amid coronavirus closures and protests in the East Village on June 19, 2020 in New York City.
Street art is displayed on a boarded up 7-Eleven store in the East Village on June 19, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: The New York Times

Wearing a mask is normal during the pandemic. This makes it easier for street artists to hide their identity around any potential surveillance cameras, NYT reporter David Gonzalez wrote.

Street artists use boarded up buildings as canvases amid coronavirus closures and protests in the East Village on June 16, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/Getty Images)
Street art on boarded-up buildings in the East Village on June 16, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: The New York Times

The NYPD told CNBC that fewer people are complaining about graffiti this year than they were in 2019. Graffiti complaints in 2020 were down 11% as of May 10.

An artist paints on the boarded-up windows of the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District on June 21, 2020 in New York City.
An artist paints on the boarded-up windows of the Whitney Museum of American Art on June 21, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: CNBC

Some artists in the Bowery neighborhood told Reuters that they asked businesses for permission to paint on their boards.

Artists paint a mural on a boarded-up storefront as part of neighborhood project in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., June 17, 2020. Picture taken June 17, 2020.
Artists paint a mural on a boarded-up storefront as part of a neighborhood project in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City on June 17, 2020.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


Source: Reuters

A former graffiti artist, Eric Felisbret, told CNBC the art reminds him of the murals that followed September 11, 2001 — intending to spread “harmony instead of discord.”

An artist paints on a boarded-up building in SoHo on June 20, 2020 in New York City.
An artist paints on a boarded-up building in SoHo on June 20, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: CNBC

Felisbret said that New York’s mostly empty streets were an ideal environment for street artists because they can paint without being seen by many.

Artists paint on the boarded-up windows of Alo Yoga in SoHo on June 20, 2020 in New York City.
Artists paint on the boarded-up windows of Alo Yoga in SoHo on June 20, 2020, in New York City.

Gotham/Getty Images


Source: CNBC

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