Times Square Painters Have City Abuzz

Artist Tom Christopher painting in view of Times Square pedestrians in an active construction site. Photo: Kathy Willens, courtesy AP Photo.



Still from “Brill Building Project Promo”

Any New Yorker worth their salt will avoid Times Square like the plague, but it might be worth making an exception today, the last day of painters Andy Hammerstein and Tom Christopher’s month-long, street-side artists’ residency in the Brill Building on 49th and Broadway, reports ABC.

The historic building, which once housed music publishers who worked with such legends as Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington, is currently undergoing renovations. Hammerstein and Christopher have set up shop in the middle of the construction site, in plain view of Times Square’s many pedestrians, offering a rare firsthand look at the artistic process.

“It’s an amazing place to work,” Christopher told the Associated Press. “There’s so much going—jack hammers and lights and people yelling. It’s absolutely an insane place.” The pair is renting the space from the building free of charge.

Though most of the paintings will be finished back in the artist’s regular studios, they are drawing on Times Square for artistic inspiration, “getting the patterns and the energy and the electricity of the area into the work,” as Christopher put it.

There are more than 5,000 people walking by each hour—”more viewers than any gallery or museum,” claims Christopher—which puts a certain amount of pressure on the artists. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life on paintings, because I feel I’d be letting them, down if I stopped,” Hammerstein told ABC.

While the project has certainly attracted lots of attention, not everyone has been won over. “I thought the idea of painting, working inside of a storefront, letting everyone see what’s going on is more interesting than his work itself,” recent Columbia University graduate Steven Chou told the AP.

Those who can’t make it can still get some sense from this YouTube clip:

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