"Urban Photography"

Street-art snapper Charlene Weisler shares the backstory on four long-gone pieces.



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  • Happy Couple

  • The Butterfly

  • I Can't Believe It's Not Art

  • Bathing Beauty Two

  • Bee There, 2008

  • Blue Boy, 2007

  • Bunny Lips, 2006

  • Cherry Heart, 2008

  • Kermit's Secret, 2008

  • Laughing Smurf, 2008

  • Life on a Mailbox, 2007

  • M5, 2007

  • Mystery Woman, 2007

  • Now It's Wall Street Drunks, 2006

  • Pink Grin, 2006

  • Sorority Torn Asunder, 2008

  • Standpipe, 2006

  • Stop Smoking, 2008

  • Two Fingers, 2006

  • Warrior Manhole, 2006

Happy Couple

Photographs: Charlene Weisler

The Butterfly
Where it was: On the side of a warehouse-like building on Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Stanton Streets
What made it special:The Butterfly was there one day, and then it disappeared. The ephemeral nature of it—the freedom and independence—all works on an artistic level. It’s emblematic of the artists who do this kind of work.”

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Art
Where it was: On a building next to a parking lot on the west side of Wooster Street, one block north of Canal Street
What made it special: “This was fairly high up, and I watched it decay. I love [the meaning behind] I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT ART. People who deal in fine art will dismiss graffiti as lowbrow, but I think it’s on an equal level with the finest.”

Happy Couple
Where it was: A low-level building on West 21st Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues
What made it special: “Somebody called the Splasher went around flinging paint on all this street art. [They] wanted to desecrate the art, but I think in this case, they enhanced it. I thought, Here’s a happy couple.”

Bathing Beauty Two
Where it was: The back garden wall of Italian restaurant Barolos (398 W Broadway between Broome and Spring Sts)
What made it special: “The wall had four of these beautiful paintings of women, surrounded by graffiti. People on the street would add to it or change it. I was drawn to it on all those layers.”

Bunny Lips
Where it was: 11 Spring Street at Elizabeth Street
What made it special: "When I took this, I wasn't focused on street art; I was photographing a New York that was disappearing. When I saw these lips—that's where it all started. I said, 'It's not as old as the building that's coming down but this is going away and it should be preserved in some form.'"

CHECK IT OUT! “Urban Photography by Charlene Weisler”: Kevin Barry Gallery, 25 Victory Blvd at Bay St, Staten Island (917-757-8851, charleneweisler.com). Mon--Sat 9am--5pm; through June 11. Opening reception Thu 16 6--9pm, free.

Next: The best places to see graffiti in NYC

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