Monday, January 08, 2007

Wyland's Whaling Walls

Although Hell's Kitchen is a beautiful neighborhood, it has it's seedy parts. And one of them is Port Authority. I am forced to walk by it or through it everytime I go to the UCB, when I want to wander through Duane Reade at 2 in the morning, or just need to hit up 7-11 for a Slurpee fix. But there is one part of Port Authority I look forward to seeing everytime.

The crack whores.
And also, the Wyland Whaling Wall.

For those of you not familiar with "Inner City Whales," it's a 460 feet long, 22 feet high life-size mural of whales. The artist is known by one name, Wyland.

And if his moustache doesn't clue you in on how badass he is, his murals definitely will. According to his website, his goal is to paint 100 life-size marine art murals in public places by 2008. It looks like he'll reach that goal pretty soon, because he's already painted 93 amazing walls in 70 cities throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Japan. As someone who has lived by the water my whole life, I appreciate Wyland's efforts to raise awareness of environmental conservation. I appreciate it so much that I ripped the following straight from Wyland's page:
"Take the case of "24-Hour Television" in Japan, which broadcast the creation of a Wyland mural in Sinjuku Station during a live telethon in 1990. Wyland's environmental message during the marathon painting session helped raise $70 million for conservation efforts in Japan. "

I first found out about Wyland in the summer of 1993, when Wyland came to my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia to paint “Humpbacks off the Virginia Coast." Measuring in at 280 feet long and 80 feet high, it was a massive, week-long operation that required 100+ volunteers. My mom was one of those lucky volunteers. She helped stir paint and also got to accompany Wyland on the scaffolding (not a job for acrophobes). While on the scaffolding, she acted as his assistant, handing him paint and brushes. She also relayed messages from Wyland to workers on the ground, instructing them to change the scaffolding's positioning so he could cover the wall with ease. Wyland's girlfriend was entrusted with the job of loading his boombox with the proper tape so he could remain pumped up while painting.
“Humpbacks off the Virginia Coast" (shown above) is prominently displayed on the side of a parking garage on Waterside Drive. If you're taking Interstate 264 out of town, Wyland's giant mural is the last thing you see before leaving Norfolk, serving as a constant reminder of what makes our city great -- awareness of environmental conservation, appreciation of the arts, and we have a mall. It is awesome. Not the mall, the mural. Well the mall, too. But that's neither here nor there.

"Inner City Whales" is a little less magnificent. It is hidden underneath Port Auhority in a tunnel that is closed to traffic. I still go out of my way to see it though, because it's one of few things in NYC that links me to Norfolk. The picture above was taken seconds before two police officers shut me down. Apparently in this post 9/11 world, taking pictures of federal transportation terminals is forbidden. If you want a better look at the art, you can find it in the 41st street underpass between 8th and 9th Aves.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite Wyland Walls.

Vancouver, B.C., Canada
San Diego, California
Yamagata, Japan
Kauai Village Kauai, Hawaii
Long Beach, California
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Hagatna, Guam


At 4/4/08, 12:35 AM, Blogger fix buffalo said...


Can you kindly tell me which side of the street the nyc mural is on. north or south.

thanks so much...

At 4/4/08, 9:23 AM, Blogger patrick said...

The NYC mural is on the south side of W. 41st St. between 8th and 9th Avenues. You can't miss it.


Post a Comment

<< Home