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Reading the Streets

Reading the Streets: Nicolas Holiber brings Goliath to Gotham

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 12:26

‘Head of Goliath’ by Nicolas Holiber, New York City. Images by Ilana Novick

NEW YORK – There’s a 4-feet-tall severed head in Tribeca, but the office workers happily eating lunch in Tribeca Park, a triangular green oasis a block below Canal Street don’t seem disturbed. The head is lying sideways, having abandoned its former bodily home. Fortunately this is not the beginning of a Law and Order episode, but rather sculptor Nicolas Holiber’s intriguing The Head of Goliath.

According to the artist, "The mixed media sculpture is [Holiber’s] interpretation of the biblical story and long‐standing art historical theme of David and Goliath."

The head looks a little defeated, lying on its side with tired eyes. I almost felt bad for him, until I saw the title and remembered to root for the underdog.

This head without a body is composed of pink, blue, and wooden boards, most of which were salvaged shipping pallets and other reclaimed debris. There’s a piece of pink material hanging off the side of the mouth like a panting dog’s tongue. Like Superman in the comics, the giant has blue hair.

Some of the sticks have a street art past all of their own. A quick glance at downtown street art prankster Hanksy’s Instagram page reveals that much of the debris was taken from the destruction of “Best of the Worst,” the show that Hanksy staged on Delancey Street earlier this year.

I love the idea that artists are recycling materials like this – it’s eco friendly, economical and, I hope, an inspiration for other artists to see how they can remix and rework each other’s materials.

Down but but not out, The Head of Goliath will be on view through Sept. 15. Image by Daniel Albanese via

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:00

Reading the Streets – Beau Stanton and Tristan Eaton

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 12 May 2015 16:46

A detail of the Beau Stanton painting focuses on those mysterious eyes. Photo by Illana Novick.

NEW YORK – My favorite parts of Little Italy these days are DiPalo’s, whose mozzarella provides a Proustian rush every time, Alleva for the creamiest of all ricottas, and the L.I.S.A. Project, a nonprofit organization that brings together a diverse group of artists’ work to walls in the neighborhood. Since this is Reading the Streets and not Ilana’s Ode to Cheese, let’s focus on the latter.

On a recent sunny walk up Mulberry, I noticed Beau Stanton’s mural on the western side of the street, like a remixed version of a painting depicting immigrants approach to Ellis Island – a ship, in pieces, floating above teal waves the color of Lady Liberty, with a series of disembodied eyes watching overhead (below: Beau Stanton, New York. Photo by Rey Rosa for the L.I.S.A. Project, via

I stood for an embarrassingly long time in front of the mural trying to decide to whom these eyes belonged. Were they ship passengers watching me? Did the eyes belong to existing New York residents, watching and waiting for the newcomers?

For a dose of glamour after all that pondering, I visited Tristan Eaton’s Audrey of Mulberry Street, on the eastern side of the street, right below Broome. It’s a black and white portrait of Ms. Hepburn shot through with bursts of orange, black, red, blue and white, starting at her collar bones and coming to a point in her sculptural updo (below, Tristan Eaton, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick).

The murals were a much-needed reminder that despite the cookie-cutter restaurants lining the block, it’s worth not speeding past the earnest greeters, and instead, turning your attention to the walls. Visit to learn more, and plan your next walk to some excellent cheese, and excellent art.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 08:07

Reading the Streets: Ron English's Temper Tot

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 16:20

Ron English, New York.  Photo by Aymann Ismail via ANIMAL New York; all other photos by Ilana Novick

NEW YORK – "Reunited and it feels so good," I sang to myself (in my head, to protect the ears of innocent New Yorkers) as I passed the Houston and Bowery Wall, back after a year under tarp to make way for a new building. I feared the wall would go the way of 5 Pointz, but the developers kept their promise and I’m thrilled.

First up to rechristen the space are Ron English and his signature Temper Tot. Temper Tot is on first glance, the babysitting job of your nightmares. He’s the Incredible Hulk as a toddler, smaller than the original, but still green and muscled, wearing the same cutoff shorts that I’m pretty sure he ripped himself. His fists are balled, eyes closed, as if any other sensory input would ruin his hard-won strength. He seems primed for a fight, or at least a tantrum. The tot is set against a backdrop of an American flag, composed of stars and stripes and ad parodies. Diabetic Coke anyone? Cigarettes called Breathe? Perhaps human flesh for $6.99 a pound? Seems reasonable given the going rate these days.

Is he railing against consumerist culture? Sick at the prospect of growing up in a world where these abstracted ads are not parodies, but commonplace: just another feature of a grocery store run.

Maybe he’s just tired of all of the people, me included, snapping pictures of him. Either way, don’t expect this tot to go down for a nap without a fight.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 16:31

Reading the Streets: First Park street art

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Friday, 24 April 2015 15:02

Artist unknown, First Park, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – First Avenue and Houston Street is finally notable for something other than endless construction and the long tease of building the (mythical?) Second Avenue Subway. First came Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, and on the first warm weekend in what feels like years, I visited First Park, the skinny green strip on Houston between First and Second avenues, which joined the art party last year.

First up is the black and white Ronald McDonald as Michael Jackson mural. Jackson looks pissed; his iconic uniform, with its block M against a circle, hanging limply off of his tired body. I hope the afterlife offers better paying positions.

At first I thought the piece was part of the Wack Donalds project by French artist Mr. One Teas, featuring Ronald McDonald in sometimes hilarious, sometimes compromising positions. This piece however, is by Ivan Orama, the artist behind one of my favorite pieces at the 21st Precinct Show last summer, a sassy, pig-tailed girl, mouth wide open, the better to scream “New York City will eat you if you let it” with.

Next to the King of Pop is Ms Me’s creation: a woman in a bank robber ski mask with Mickey Mouse ears, because the best bank robbers have a touch of whimsy. Her left breast has also turned into what looks like a baby unicorn whose horn has just begun to emerge. Part robber, part mythical creature, I couldn’t stop staring. The animal was cute, but I’m pretty sure the cuteness is a distraction, the better to steal my wallet.

On the way out, I spotted an unexpectedly poignant piece, a contrast to the playful surrealism of the one before: a mural of two boys, lying down with their feet up against the wall, eyes wide but weary. The boy in the blue baseball cap turns to his friend, asking, “You sure it's still worth it?”

Too real, I thought. Can I go back to the mouse/robber? Has this mural been reading my mind? Creepiness aside, I hope the answer to the boy’s question is “yes.”

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 15:15

Reading the Streets: 'Gazing Globes' by Paula Hayes

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Friday, 17 April 2015 14:02

Paula Hayes, 'Gazing Globes,' Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by Yasunori Matsui.

NEW YORK – The city, thankfully, has emerged from the thaw that made basic errands feel like walking through a snow globe. If however, you’re nursing a bit of Stockholm Syndrome for the flakes we’ve left behind, head over to Madison Square Park before April 19 for "Gazing Globes," sculptor Paula Hayes’ first outdoor exhibit, where you can view gorgeous snow globes without feeling as if you’re living in one.

Photo by Yasunori Matsui.

The 18 spheres, located on the West Gravel southwest corner of the park, are made of transparent polycarbonate, and mounted on fiberglass pedestals, lit from within. They’re particularly striking at night, when a walk through the park feels like a walk through field of beautiful, glowing plants, possibly a native species from a distant planet I’d like to visit.

During the day, at first glance, they look like pristine, minimalist versions of the tchotchkes lining fireplaces all over America. Inside, instead of storybook gingerbread houses are old radio parts, glass vacuum tubes, and shredded tires. I was shocked to learn from the park’s website that the snow in these globes is actually pulverized CDs.


Photo by Ilana Novick.

With all of the musical technology that was the backbone of my adolescence turned to (admittedly beautiful) dust, outdated technology under glass, it feels like looking into a reverse crystal ball, revealing secrets of the past, with perhaps, a few clues into the future.

Photo by Ilana Novick.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2015 14:34
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