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A group of bodypainted people in front of the Washington Square arch.
Photograph: By Victor Mirontschuk | A previous bodypainting event with painted models in Washington Square Park.

Cold weather can't stop this weekend’s naked bodypainting day

See the artistic spectacle at Washington Square Park.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

Temperatures are going to be in the 30s on Saturday afternoon. It's the kind of weather fit for a heavy coat, a scarf, and gloves. And yet, the New Yorkers participating in the third annual Polar Bear Paint will be totally naked. Well, naked except for a layer of paint on their skin. 

About 30 brave souls will strip down to be painted by expert artists who will transform their skin into canvases with beautiful designs. The painting session happens at an indoor studio, then the models will march west along Third Street to Washington Square Park (starting at 3:15pm) where they'll pose for a photo by the iconic arch (3:30pm). The march and photoshoot on Saturday, February 24 are open to the public.

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“It’s exhilarating and brings color and joy into the cold, grey winter of New York City,” event organizers say. 

Human Connection Arts, led by artist Andy Golub, runs the annual Polar Bear Paint. In the summer, the organization hosted a Naked Bodypainting Day in Union Square. Held on a sweltering July day, crowds gathered to admire the artwork, with some designs featuring intricate patterns and others with bold sweeping decorations.

The nude events celebrate the human body in all of its beautiful shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities and ages (ranging from the 20s to the 80s). Artists carefully wield paintbrushes to cover their subjects from head to toe in theatrical makeup. The daring designs feature everything from portraiture and patterns to realism and surrealism.  

"I wanted people to take a moment and really celebrate humanity," Golub told Time Out New York. "I think the event is really about spreading joy and feeling joy."

Anybody who wants to get involved in this weekend’s event—whether as a model, an artist, or a volunteer—can sign up here (all participants must be 18+).

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