After an absence of six years, from 2005-2011, I now make twice yearly pilgrimages back to the east coast of the US, mostly to visit family and friends, but also to reconnect with NYC. During these visits I generally stay in Airbnb flats in the East Village or Lower East Side. I do this mainly because I enjoy the atmosphere of those two neighborhoods, but also because they are both areas in which I am guaranteed to find a few hidden gems of street art.

Just near my Airbnb, on East 12th street, I found a mural that I had seen a few times on my Instagram feed, a huge portrait of young and older Michael Jackson. Doing a bit of research, I discovered that the artist was Brazilian Eduardo Kobra, and that he had made a trip to NYC and left 18 murals, some of them several stories in height all around the city. Here is a link to an article which also has a map showing the locations of all 18 murals.

I didn’t make it to all 18 sites, and most of the photos here are of murals in lower Manhattan. However the one of the firefighter and Einstein on a bike required me to make a trip (and no, my nose didn’t bleed) all the way up to East 50th St. But it was definitely worth the trek, as these two murals are immense, perhaps the biggest I’ve seen. The firefighter mural seems to attract the most attention from tourists. In fact, I was able to play tour guide to a group of Portuguese travellers, to whom I explained that the number “343” on the firefighter’s helmet was a tribute to the number of firefighters lost on the day of the 9/11 attacks. Of course I also encouraged them to head down to the East Village instead of Times Square, as the former is much more NYC than dirty Elmos and the M&M store will ever be. I wonder if they heeded my advice.

 

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