New York Police Shut Down Mint and Serf’s Downtown Graffiti Pop-Up

The graffiti duo's pop-up gallery was open for only an hour and a half.

Photo: via @avesbb

This past Saturday (May 30), soon after street artists Mint & Serf set up their pop-up art show titled “Gimme Shelter” in a soon-to-be demolished parking garage near the Holland Tunnel, the police shut it down (see Illuminator Art Collective Arrested for Daring Museum Protest Sues NYPD and Columbia Student’s Performance Art Catalyzes a Full-Fledged Protest Movement).


Photo: courtesy of Mateo Suarez

At mid-afternoon Friday, the duo alerted a select group to the Soho location of the “Gimme Shelter” show, which was scheduled to run from 3–7 pm Saturday. The space was a privately owned indoor/outdoor parking lot on the bustling corner of Varick and Broome Street.

The party started at 3 pm. By 4:30 pm, when roughly 100 guests had gathered, including artnet News contributor Anthony Haden-Guest (see Celebrity Artist Sylvester Stallone Tames Massive Crowd at Glitzy French Riviera Show Opening) and Real Housewives of New York star Carole Radziwill, the police, apparently alerted by neighbors, showed up to shut things down.

“The idea was just to do an exhibit/party at that specific garage,” Mikhail Sokovikov (aka Mint) told artnet News in a telephone call. “It’s been empty for decades and we came across it. It was kind of a roll of the dice. I mean I didn’t expect it to even last as long as it did. The people that came will always remember it.”

“#GIMMESHELTER GOT SHUTDOWN!!! SHORT AND SWEET!!!” Mint & Serf wrote on Saturday on their Instagram feed, where their handle is @theMirfs.

Despite the shut down, a person who attended the opening told artnet News, that there were no arrests and that the police were “decent and low key.”


Artist Jason Aaron Wall with Real Housewives of New York star Carole Radziwill.

According to their website,  Mint & Serf are the Russian-born Mikhail Sokovikov and Brooklyn-born Jason Aaron Wall who met in 1997 and view the streets of New York City as “a canvas for their creative vision and work that transverses relationships between street art and civic spaces.”

In an interview the two did with Rachel Small of Interview magazine, Mint told the story of the first work of graffiti the two did together, and the first time Mint got caught:

I have an old-school apartment in Brooklyn, and I decided to repaint my bedroom wall. Jason came by with a couple of our neighborhood friends, and we started painting. It was seven or eight o’clock at night and we just got so fucking high with fumes that we eventually had to leave. We were like, “All right, we still have paint, so let’s go catch tags in the neighborhood.” We ended up walking around at like 8:30 pm on a Thursday. It was in a Jewish neighborhood. We ended up getting chased by the JDL, a Jewish Community Watch Group. But they ended up calling the real police, and that was like the first time I got caught.

Photo: via @glasspizza

Photo: via @glasspizza

After launching the Canal Chapter in 2005, followed by The Stanton Chapter in 2008, Mint & Serf have continued to produce a wide range of artwork including large-scale murals, paintings, sculpture, photographs, graffiti, and nightlife experiences.

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