Off the wall: L.E.S. street art

BY CLAYTON PATTERSON  |  André’ Charles, a.k.a. The Underground Artist, in the early 1990s came down from the Bronx with the desire to take down Chico and become the leading Lower East Side street artist. For a period of time he gave Chico a run for his money. He burst on the scene and quickly made a name for himself with street murals like his RIP Tupac Shakur and Mike Tyson on Houston St., and of course his full, building piece on the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker Sts. (top right). He lasted a few years and left. Chico is still here.

Sioban Meow is one of the long-term residents of Umbrella House squat, at 21-23 Aveniue C. Sioban was one of the front-line activists in the late 1980s/early ’90s L.E.S. anti-gentrification movement. One way she expressed her outrage at the corporate takeover of the community was through her art. Sioban has developed her own set of “Squat Workers,” which had a prominent presence on the L.E.S., such as a figure on the front of Umbrella House (lower right).

I’m not sure who painted the mural on the corner of Attorney and Rivington Sts. (above left). This was outside of Pyscho Cycles, a custom motorcycle shop. Indian Larry (DeSmedt) was one of the bike builders. Indian Larry went on to become a legend in the motorcycle world.

And of course who can forget Sabotage Books, at 96 St. Mark’s (below left)? This was a gathering place for many of those who were connected to the anti-gentrification movement.

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