Thursday, August 14, 2014

Report: Jim Power begins removing his mosaics from Astor Place ahead of reconstruction


[Photo from Aug. 5 by EVG reader Brian P.]

In recent months, Jim Power has been putting up signs around the neighbor to rally support to save his mosaic-covered lampposts from being permanently removed during the reconstruction of Astor Place.

And the campaign seemingly worked. The Villager reported the following on Tuesday:

The Village Alliance has been getting calls from concerned residents as well, according to executive director William Kelley, who contacted the city Department of Transportation, resulting in a commitment on the D.O.T.’s part to salvage and store the poles until they can be re-incorporated into the streetscape at a later date.

The planned Astor Place redesign will commence this fall and see the temporary removal and storage in a D.O.T. facility of seven of Power’s mosaic poles, according to an emailed statement from the city agency.

“The D.O.T. is working closely with the artist Jim Power and our partners City Lore and the Village Alliance to incorporate the light poles into the new plaza design,” the statement further read.

“I had a meeting with Jim to tell him that we are interested in helping to save them,” Kelley said on Tuesday, adding that there is no immediate danger to the artworks. He said the signs started appearing about two weeks ago, but that “nothing precipitated that” in terms of specific developments in the construction works.

However, despite these assurances, Power began "tearing down his multicolored mosaics from lampposts around Astor Place Wednesday as a preemptive strike against the city," DNAinfo reported yesterday.

He reportedly chiseled off the mosaic on the southwest corner of Third Avenue at Cooper Square.


[EVG photo from last evening]

Per Lisha Arino's report at DNAinfo:

Power decided to take down the Astor Place mosaics as a way to “preserve the identity of a community that is global, that is artistic [and] that is its own beauty," he said.

He plans to incorporate the removed tiles into new mosaics that he will install on lampposts on St. Mark’s Place, he said.

Said Kelley of the Village Alliance: "It's really worth preserving and it's a shame that he’s decided to do that."

You can read Jim's blog for updates here. A sign on Third Avenue at Cooper Square said the Astor Place mosaics will all be removed by Sunday.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Village Alliance should move to stop Jim now. There's no difference between him tearing them down and some vandal, or developer, doing it.

BBnet3000 said...

So they were going to preserved and put back after construction but he's decided to take them away and not put them back?

THE NOTORIOUS L.I.B.E.R.A.T.I.O.N. said...

Here's a case where the city was willing to work with an artist to preserve his public art, on city property, and he cuts off his nose to spite his face?

Anonymous said...

I love these mosaics and took the time to call the Village Alliance. I even wrote a letter to Gail Brewer.

Now I read he's just going to rip them down? Why did I waste my time standing up for him and his work?

Anonymous said...

If Jim believes that the EV is an "artist" community anymore he's living tragically in the past. Those days are long gone my friends, only to be replaced by corporate owned shops, lame office workers and frat boys from the burbs with rich daddies to pay for their 2K studios.

nygrump said...

I'm an office worker but I'm not lame. In fact I walk quite well, I've been called a sidewalk wolf by insecure pods.

uncle Pete said...

dude is being a brat

Anonymous said...

Such a child. Stop encouraging him.

10:04 a.m. said...

Zombies, I mean, newbies that have moved here because they were attracted to "that is artistic [and] that is its own beauty", but once here, they consider this as a blight and nuisance to their middle-American sensibilities, thus they're the ones responsible for eliminating them so that they can live in shiny condos and neighborhood, like the now Imperial Astor Pl., where they can live like they were back in their hometown in the suburbs, but super extra more expensive. As George Bernard Shaw would say -- they have to live for others and not for themselves: that's middle-class morality.

Anonymous said...

It's his art and he has every right to do whatever he wants to do with it; and Jim has every right to suspect that his work will not be preserved but instead destroyed, and if that's the case he'd rather destroy it himself. Those calling him a brat are the ones defending the real brats, invading the EV -- the ones that WOOOO upon consuming a $25 flaming cocktail made by bearded mixoolgist in suspenders and fedora at but whine when their favorite "coffee shop" runs out of soy and almond milk, or when they couldn't dock their beloved Citi Bike because the docking stations are full, most likely are brats themselves because they feel soooooo special when their said favorite "coffee shop" or gastropub is applying for full liquor license so that they can pair that "pasrty" with Patrón.

Anonymous said...

You are all missing the big picture. DOT is spending 16 million dollars to eliminate an Indian Trail - Astor Place. All they are doing is creating a plaza, in essence a front yard, for the new people coming into the neighborhood. They are adding a lot of property to Cooper Union, who is in violation of their charter, and will be charging tuition. They are eliminating car lanes, which means more air and noise pollution. Is any of this necessary???? The 16 million could have been used elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I wish he hadn't torn them down. I would have rather he asked us to put pressure on the city to ensure that they are preserved and brought back into the space in some way. EV Grieve readers would have done that. Then again, it is his work, so if he wants to destroy it, I guess that's his choice.

Anonymous said...

The mosaics were never an approved NYC art installation (ex. Astor Place Cube). The mosaics were put up to break the rules. But the longer they were up, the more Jim and neighborhood residents thought the mosaics had a right to be there and they would be preserved forever. This was never the case. The destruction of the mosaics might be Jim's way of recognizing the original spirit in which they were created? That said, I'd love for him or a designated apprentice to formalize the arrangement with NYC DOT and continue these in the new space. But I doubt he'll go for it. This isn't the "Wild West" East Village of the 80s anymore. This is 2014. For all the complaints, City gov't agencies are more functional now then they ever were, and subsequently, you can't just do what you feel like anymore.

Anonymous said...

BTW, It was Cooper Union, who first presented this plan to the community in 2001. It was their idea of a "landgrab". They presented this plan as a giveback to the community, in exchange for the 3 overbuilt monstrosities they were planning. A developer, in this case Cooper Union, usually pays for the giveback. Cooper Union had no intent of ever paying. They were giving us something that we were supposed to paying for. They suddenly pulled the Astor Place redevelopment out of the plan. The City then decided to redevelope Astor Place on their own, using Cooper Union's plans, how convenient.

I resent the comments made about the East Village "Wild West". The people who were here in the 70's and 80's are the ones who kept the East Village together. We are the ones who lived here and made it a community, including people like Jim. Now we are being forced out by people who would have never survived the "Wild East Village" days. What we have now are a lot of bars, a lot of young kids getting drunk. the latest - loud roof parties. We had commmunity, it does not feel much like community anymore, it feels like a campus.

nygrump said...

This does not feel like a campus. A campus has intelligence and intent and community. This is what class war looks like in our contemporary state, as waged downwards, though none dare call it by that name.

Anonymous said...

ANon 12PM - hang in there, I've been in the neighborhood 10 years (which is nothing compared to you) and am not 30 yet but I share your mentality - amongst all the douches, are those of us younger generation that come in and have the same understanding and culture.

Scooby said...

His work - his choice...

john penley said...

Jim is a Vietnam Veteran who, I believe, suffers from PTSD like any other Veterans of that war. I understand why he did what he did and talked to him when I was in NYC recently. I think he is really acting to make a statement about the complete gentrification of Astor Place and also because of the PTSD.I support him and understand his actions although many may not. I am also a Veteran of the Vietnam era and have PTSD as well so I know.

BT said...

If you put your soul and effort into producing the art Jim does, would you entrust it to or allow it to be ripped down by some NYC street worker?

Not a chance. I'd do it myself and try to salvage anything I could.

uncle Pete said...

my bartender wears a trilby... fedoras are so yesterday. take that!!

Anonymous said...

Then don't cause such a stink about it and ask us to pitch in with $ to help.

Anonymous said...

i have watched jim happily put up and angrily take down his tiles many times over the years. i just hope he knows there are some people that will miss his work and i pity anyone that will never be lucky enough to see this every day.

Anonymous said...

And a post about Mosaic Man commented by the commenter's bartender's trilby, now that's a brat.

Anonymous said...

Trust me. Jim knows what he's doing He is the artist. We are crazy yet cool us creative ones. You never know what we are thinking. That and that only makes us create. And we never know until it's just done.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a tantrum.

Anonymous said...

He is destroying his own art, a sign of prtotest or could be art itself. Unlike the bros and self-entitled yunnies, and Bloomberg's godsend billionaires destroying the neighborhood weeknights to weekends with their vomits, trashing, literally, the neighborhood, and with their goddamn yelling and screaming woooooooos. That's a tantrum.

Anonymous said...

Jim does not own these mosaics. If he did, there would be no need to organize to try to save them. Given that he does not own them, he has no more right than anyone else to remove them. If anyone else were destroying the mosaics, we'd be up in arms. I think the Village Alliance should get a court order for him to stop.

Anonymous said...

ptsd, perhaps. i've known jim superficially (i.e.-from around the neighborhood) for some years now. he can be a personable guy but he can become volatile at the drop of a hat. sadly, he does not always seem in control of his faculties. I think his legacy would have been better served by working within the system where he appeared to have a real chance of having his work preserved. perhaps he and some of his supporters could've gotten a written promise that his mosaics would be restored and replaced, maybe even cared for for some years as his health appears to be worsening. anyway, i hope there's a happy ending to this.

bayou said...

Jim is wildly erratic. Always has been. This is a moment and another, different moment will follow. I believe that the change to Astor Place coupled with his shift from cane to wheelchair and Jesse's aging are taking a toll. Thank god he is in a stable living environment.

Anonymous said...

City should move to stop him? Do you guys understand the basic idea of self expression or basic humanity? They are his creations. I can't claim to speak for him. Although, could you try to see maybe if a bunch of corporate robots came and ruined your city, and disrespected your art by trying to reframe it in their lifeless way(which is most likely lip service to be taken off the table at a more convenient time anyhow), maybe you would just take it down instead of watching it turn into something false? These suits are so far from anything I recognize as human , I sometimes wonder if we are the same species. It's double speak. Oppression through collective silence. Fear of the mob creates self censorship.

les native said...

Could you all stop airing his personal business to people who don't sound like his allies. Snitches. People are talking about taking him to court, and you respond by bashing his credibility. You are calling him crazy in a condescending way to satisfy these municipal fascists. These nosey people who are forming their argument about art based on the letter of laws. That' s like having your human resources person help plan a sexy night to reignite your relationship. That's like having an accountant right you a poem.

Giovanni said...

It is beyond ironic that some of the same people who were upset about seeing a little grafitti on the Verizon building last week now are criticizing Jim for removing his own artwork. If a grafitti artist removed their work would you be complaining or saying they should be taken to court? Or calling him a vandal? The fact is Jim is like many of the street artists of the past who has been accepted by the community, and his work is allowed to remain intact, like Lee Quinones, ERO (Dominique Philbert), Chico, Samo (Basquiat) and others. If the work does not belong to Jim, who does it belong to? Hopefully he will take the tiles and create another work somewhere else. His work. His decision.

Anonymous said...

Giovanni -- It's not necessary for anyone here to establish ownership of the mosaics to know that they don't belong to Jim. If these mosaics belonged to Jim, nothing could be easier than for him to get a court order protecting them. Any number of lawyers would volunteer to do it.

The Village Alliance undermines its credibility by not attempting to stop him.

Anonymous said...

"lame office workers" ... “middle-American sensibilities” ... "some NYC street worker," indeed! Love that "some." What snobs.

Anonymous said...

i think it's kind of kooky of him... but not surprised, he is a kooky dude.

fyi he did the mosaics for the billionaire family that kicked everyone out on e3rd economakis? st a few doors down from the bean... i guess we all have to eat but...