'Vandals' Take Over NYPD Precinct — with Graffiti

Saturday, August 23, 2014

en Angotti, Savior El Mundo, Chris Soria and Esteban Del Valle at '21st Precinct'. (Araz Hachadourian)

From the outside, 327 East 22nd St. looks just like every other building on the block. Walk through the front entrance and you will only see a few, worn-down doors. But make a quick right into the staircase, and you’ll find yourself completely surrounded by street art.

The walls, the floors, the ceilings and bathrooms — nothing was off-limits to the more than 50 street artists that turned the old NYPD 21st Precinct Building into a (temporary) street and graffiti art museum.

Artists Savior Elmundo and Pesu and the collective Outlaw Arts brought in fellow street artists who worked evenings and weekends painting the four floors of the building for “21st Precinct.” The project took four weeks, and opened to the public last weekend.

 Lorenzo Masnah, "21st Precinct" (Araz Hachadourian)


Staircase at "21st Precinct" (Araz Hachadourian)

Carlos Jay, one of the artists and curators of the show, explained that the former precinct building had a colorful past. In the 1800s, when the neighborhood was called the Gas House District, it was under the jurisdiction of violent and corrupt cops.

“Once we realized it was a police precinct, we pretty much went to town. We felt like, what better subject is there than vandals taking over a police precinct?” said Jay. “We just felt like we had to take advantage of this storyline.”

A number of artists painted entire rooms and walking between them feels like moving through different worlds. Other artists claimed their own walls or collaborated with each other. “It’s a little bit of a hodgepodge of things, but it still works. It’s amazing. It’s very stimulating to see all these different styles and different ideas and concepts all under one roof,” said Jay.

Work by Bill Claps, Pesu, and Pixote at "21st Precinct" (Araz Hachadourian)
RAE BK at 21st Precinct Exhibit (Photo by Hrag Vartanian/Flickr)


The works are loosely based around the 21st precinct's story, but Elmundo, who is a curator in addition to one of the artists, said the show is really about bringing street art indoors and into a precinct.

“When they’re walking in the street they see the artwork, whatever, they don’t care,” said Elmundo. But when it’s in a building — the street is in here, they enjoy it. They’re like ‘Wow.’ They focus and they [really] see the artwork, the graffiti, the murals and the wheat pasting.”

“21st Precinct” is open Sat., Aug.23 and Sun., Aug. 24 from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. The building will be demolished within a couple weeks and replaced with luxury condos.

KET at "21st Precinct." (Araz Hachadourian)
Work outside door by Lexy Bella at "21st Precinct." (Araz Hachadourian)
Shery-o & The Yok at "21st Precinct." (Araz Hachadourian)
ASVP at "21st Precinct." (Araz Hachadourian)

 "Picasso vs. Dali" by Savior Elmundo at "21st Precinct." (Araz Hachadourian)


More in:

Comments [4]

Ben Angotti

Hey! Thanks for the awesome write up. Hate to nitpick but my name has a "b" at the beginning(Ben not En) and the piece cited as Lexi Bella is actually Danielle Mastrion (Lexi did the awesome pieces on the other side.) But thanks again for the write up! Great photos too!

Aug. 31 2014 01:36 AM
k from nyc

FANTASTIC show. the city needs more creativity, not more luxury condos.

Aug. 25 2014 12:16 AM
Penny from New York City, my livingroom

Great show... great ambience... too short... shame this historic building will be demolished and along with it, a really historic installation... this was better than the graffiti exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York last spring... by far... more exciting, more alive and relevant to the ever changing ephemera of the city...

Aug. 25 2014 12:04 AM
Katha from Bridgewater, NJ

This artwork is magnificent and inspiring. I love mural work, including the WPA murals in older post offices. What a tribute to the curator and the police for cooperating. It cracks me up that the artists were excited to work in a former cop shop. I was disappointed to learn that the building was no longer in service. I thought that the police were going to be walking through the art every day, until later in the story. Also disappointed at how short the show was. It should have been available for weeks. Why not? So much work by so many artists, it doesn't make sense. Oh, well, I missed my chance.

Aug. 24 2014 09:34 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by