Interestingly, most passersby attribute the presence of the "cool" graffiti-covered surface in the otherwise strictly graffiti-controlled New York City to the hipness of the ground floor rental tenant, Comme Des Garcons (the snooty clothier offering thousand-dollar pants).
Actually, the opposite is true: Comme Des Garcons tried to remove the street art and even erected whiteboard barriers across the facade.
Flashback: above, the anti-art panels in place during the fall of 2014 (image credit: GoogleMaps StreetView, et al).
The white panels were mistaken by visitors to the Chelsea gallery district (where the store is located) as an attempt to monetize the street art: surely, they're letting graffiti-makers cover the surfaces like usual here and then they'll be able to remove the art to an auction house. After all, street art by Banksy was selling for millions around the same time.
According to Michael, the white panels were actually the attempt by the "hip" tenants to stop the street artists --and after some weeks, Michael ordered the wall barriers taken down.
The "gallery" 520 belongs to Michael, not to Comme Des Garcons. Famed artists have "exhibited" on the facade, and one roll-down security gate even went to the DIA museum. "You wanna be in my building," Michael said, "you gotta be okay with the art being there."
Even the city's graffiti abatement patrols have (after trying to assert themselves) seemingly conceded this space to the street artists Michael invites.
In spite of being not-hip to the street art scene (in fact, of being the very opposite of hip), Comme Des Garcons will always be a cool store because of the daring entrance portal --the futuristic burnished metal egg tunnel with floor-mounted artsy red lighting-- which goes through the old car body shop entry arch.
Ward's street art is done legally, with landowner permission.
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Painting Bushwick Mural District's Largest
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