There's a building on West 22nd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC that has been a magnet for graffiti and street art for years ... the original tenant of the building was "Heavenly Body Works," and a sign still remains on the building from that business. The Japanese fashion company Comme des Garcon has been the tenant for years now, occupying a ground floor showroom, and whose tunnel-like entrance is always flanked by full walls covered with street art.
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I've been visiting this location at 520 West 22nd Street for almost 10 years now, always stopping by while visiting local art galleries to marvel at the ever-evolving outdoor "gallery" of street art and graffiti that covers the walls of this building. I finally decided to put together an archive of my photos of the graffiti and street art on this wall and building so we can see how it has changed over time. It's almost like a living thing, since the art always changing and there's usually a number of new pieces there every time I show up. Below is a relatively current view from November 2016, but as you scroll down, you'll see that I'm going to start with the earliest picture in 2008 and bring you up to date until the last view from February 2017.
** Please note: this archive is a work in progress ... right now there's just the chrono order of pictures below, but eventually each image below will soon click-through to pages showing more individual works of graffiti and street art from each specific date. Check back soon as I fill it up with all of the details allowing you to see more individual works!
A recent view as of November 2016 above; beginning of archives, starting with 2008 below:
November 29, 2008
October 16, 2010
This first picture from 2008 will be the most-sparse one you'll see here. I'm not sure when the first street art started appearing on this particular buidling or why, but this was the first time I noticed it and stopped to take pictures. The picture above right from 2010 shows the tunnel entrance to Comme des Garcons, and shows that the vintage "Heavenly Body Works" sign still remains despite now being a clothing store. The narrow door to the left with the image of the hand holding a martini glass remains a constant throughout, but you'll see that eventually everything else tends to change.
October 14, 2011
March 11, 2012
At the time I started taking these pictures, I didn't foresee making a multi-year history, so I didn't always get an across-the-street shot of the whole building. The 2011 picture above left shows the area above the martini glass door, while the picture from March 2012 features a large portrait by the street artist Fumero.
February 3, 2013
February 22, 2013
The black and white line drawing of a family around a table in both pictures above is also by Fumero. You can see with the army guy above left that the street art is creeping higher on the wall, reaching the bottom of the 2nd floor windows. The picture above right shows a good example of how earlier layers are torn off yet have elements that remain and peek through to newer layers, creating a somewhat abstract collage effect.
June 14, 2013
September 14, 2013
June 2013 sees a new life-size yellow woman with a purple dress making an appearance, but you can see by September, she's gone, except for her legs poking out from under several layers of new street art pieces. Fumero's family appears in multiples and the density of art-per-inch increases.
November 30, 2013
September 20, 2014
Another detail from November 2013 shows a very dense overlaying of street art. But the big surprise took place above right in September 2014, when someone - perhaps Comme des Garcon? - attempted to stop the installation of street-level pieces by installing a smooth "graffiti-resistant" white wall around their door. But really? What could be more tempting than a big, white expanse of space? How long will this last? (Plus, it was pretty disappointing to see the art covered up).
March 7, 2015
November 12, 2015
You can see by March 2015, above left, that someone has taken spray paint to the white "graffiti-resistant" wall, although it does seem successful in stopping the wheat-paste street art pieces from going up, at least on the white wall. The upper section still remains covered with street art pieces. But by November 2015, the white wall experiment is over, and the wall is fully exposed again to an intense collection of street art.
January 13, 2016
February 27, 2016
Not much changes between January and February 2016, as you can see above. The main addition - if you look closely in February - is a Steve Jobs head with yellow arms and hands extending out from his head holding iPhones.
May 20, 2016
October 12, 2016
You may notice that the beige brick building with the large garage door and security camera - visible in many of the pictures from earlier years - is now gone by May 2016, with a demolished space surrounded by orange (and later green) construction walls.
November 10, 2016
February 3, 2017
I've got a good across-the-street shot here in November of 2016, above left. The last image in this collection, from February 2017 (above right), shows the orange cab of a large tractor-trailer which has more construction equipment, with scaffolding in place and construction of a new building reaching a 2nd floor level. The left side of the building - to the left of the Comme des Garcons entrance, is almost completely covered by scaffolding.