§ Gowanus Canal Brooklyn Graffiti

This week Karen and I took a fascinating water tour with the Working Harbor Committee led by Captain Margaret Flanagan and Joseph Alexiou, tour guide and author of Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal. The Hidden Harbor Tour of Gowanus Bay left from Wall Street Pier 11 and headed over Brooklyn way. We toured through the working port facilities along the shore, went into the Erie Basin (location of the Brooklyn Ikea), then back out to the Red Hook Basin and Gowanus Bay and finally headed into the Gowanus Canal. Map below, right.

Tour map showing graffiti area
Tour map showing graffiti area

Old, abandoned, and decaying warehouses and buildings line the water as you enter the Gowanus Canal. They present quite a canvas for the city’s graffiti artists even if it’s a bit hard to get to (both for the artists and those wanting to see the work). As you’ll see, some of the spots chosen make you scratch your head as to how the artists got there. The photos were taken from port side (left) of the boat and are in order of time taken.

We can argue about the value of these works and graffiti in general. I personally put graffiti, street art, and Public Art (with a capital P&A) in the same genus but different species. Certainly any number of graffiti and street artists end up as “real painters” or public artists and some like Banksy hit the big time. In this case there is no defacing, no harm, no foul. In fact it improves the visual environment. We can have a discussion about this over a beer.

One last thing, the captain was able to talk the drawbridge operator at Hamilton Bridge into letting us through (see the third image in the slideshow). It was very, very cool. Oh and I appreciate the chutzpah of the family in the canoes. Their sanity though……

NOTE: The day was very cloudy and it was getting late. I tried to manipulate and lighten the the images some but also wanted to present the art in a realistic way.

Click on any photo for a slideshow.

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