The Two World Trade Center Murals Project
The Two World Trade Center Murals Project proves that the worlds of finance and art need not be mutually exclusive. Unveiled in September 2018, it consists of 21 murals on the square block surrounding what will become the new Two World Trade Center: Fulton to Vesey Streets, between Church and Greenwich Streets.
The project is an outgrowth of an earlier collaboration between Silverstein Properties, developer of the rebuilt World Trade Center (WTC) compass, and Doug Smith, co-owner of nearby World Trade Gallery. Shortly after the rebuilt Four World Trade Center opened in 2013, Larry Silverstein asked Smith, whose company had curated the art for the building’s lobby, to invite street artists to wield their paints on one floor of the building. Only tenants of and visitors to Four World Trade Center were able to view these works, however. But the construction site of what will become Two World Trade Center is visible to all and was definitely in need of beautification. Silverstein, the Port Authority (which owns much of the WTC), and Smith decided to invite street artists to transform the site into an open-air gallery.
The works seem to have no unifying theme, other than to simply brighten the locale and help the area continue to move forward from 9/11 by embracing the present and future. Todd Gray’s “Flabbergast” does that in part by evoking the brilliant colors and bold lines of Pop Art on a mammoth canvas, 25 feet high and 65 feet high, of corrugated metal. The work, which stands on Fulton Street, includes a cartoon “Pow!” that nods to Roy Liechtenstein as well as a hash tag that speaks to today’s social media.
Also on Fulton Street, “Cosmic Traveler” by Stickymonger may come as a surprise for those familiar with the artist. She is best known for cutting oversize “stickers” from sheets of black vinyl and adhering them to white backgrounds to create anime-influenced murals. While the main figure of “Cosmic Traveler” is the same sort of wide-eyed girl found in many of her black-and-white works, here she waves from an extraterrestrial field of purple punctuated with what look like colorful drops of liquid.
On Vesey Street, Hydeon (né Ian Ferguson) did stick to black-and-white for “Brownstone Ocean,” a dense landscape of elaborately detailed and finely wrought brownstones upon brownstones. Its monochromatic lines complement the white “ribs” of the Oculus transit station behind it. Also in the foreground of the Oculus is a different sort of landscape by Joseph Meloy, titled “Landscape.” Lush with color, it has a childlike cartoony vibe, as if created by an eight-year-old with poster paints.
Two equally jubilant works stand just feet from “Landscape.” In front is “Hidden Dreams,” which its artist, Brolga, describes as magic realism: “I’ve attempted to create something joyful and uplifting in contrast to the historically heavy area,” he noted in his artist statement. Above it is “Vesey in Bloom” by Chinòn Maria, a riot of the vivacious flowers the artist is known for. She also adorned cement planters along Church Street with the same motif.
Renowned street artists and muralists Dragon76, Hektad, Brandon Sines (the creator of cult favorite Frank Ape), and Chris RWK are among the other artists whose works enliven the World Trade Center campus. And unlike with a traditional museum, you can view these murals anytime you need an infusion of inspiration, cheer, and color.