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Basketball players in front of Daniel Hauben's "Under the El," installed by the MTA on Freeman Street in 2005

Basketball players in front of Daniel Hauben’s “Under the El,” installed by the MTA on Freeman Street in 2005

When we headed up to Freeman Street in the Bronx to see the new Seis del Sur photo exhibit, Sin Límites, we were certainly surprised. This once discouraged-looking elevated stop is hopping with cultural draws. As you get off the train you’ll see elegant panels of colored faceted glass illustrating different subway scenes. Called “The El,” the six panels were created by artist Daniel Hauben, once dubbed the “Bruegel of the Bronx” by the New York Times, who was commissioned by the MTA’s Arts for Transit project in 2005.

Given that the original Seis del Sur exhibit, Dispatches from Home, documented some of the most dramatic and disturbing graffiti in the history of New York, visitors might be justifiably surprised to see the pristine condition of these public art works. Yet pristine they are—not a cracked piece of glass or ugly vandalism as far as the eye can see.

As you walk down the northern staircase you’ll encounter yet another stunning work of art—Nelson Chief69 Seda’s mural commissioned by fast-food outlet, Kennedy’s Fried Chicken. When Seda announced on Facebook in January 2013 that the mural he painted “came out dope,” he added that he hoped “the knuckleheads in the area don’t paint over it.”  And they haven’t.

Street mural by Nelson Seda (Chief69) on wall of Kennedy's Fried Chicken

Street mural by Nelson Seda (Chief69) on wall of Kennedy’s Fried Chicken

Indeed, it’s a fine neighborhood for Seis del Sur’s six Bronx-raised photojournalists to hold their new exhibit of contemporary photos. The plain but adequate chosen space—the Bronx Music Heritage Center—was jumping at the opening reception on Friday evening, July 25th.

Opening-night crowd for Seis del Sur at Bronx Music Heritage Center

Opening-night crowd for Seis del Sur at Bronx Music Heritage Center

Los Seis are Francisco Molina Reyes II, Edwin Pagán, David Gonzalez, Angel Franco, Ricky Flores, and Joe Conzo, Jr.

Los Seis are Francisco Molina Reyes II, Edwin Pagán, David Gonzalez, Angel Franco, Ricky Flores, and Joe Conzo, Jr.

Amanda and Anthony Ramirez II from Bronx Beer

Amanda and Anthony Ramirez II from Bronx Beer

It’s a tribute to the resurgence of the Bronx that the reception was able to offer local food and beer, including the truly excellent Bronx Beer, which is served at the Bronx Beer Hall on Arthur Avenue. Blending its glorious Italian heritage (Madonia Brothers Bakery, for example, continues to thrive) with its many Puerto Rican residents, Arthur Avenue is entering a new age. And Los Seis will be there to document it.

Visitors heading home can pause at the Boogie Down Booth, an open-air sound kiosk below the Freeman Street Station, playing the music of renowned musicians (Thelonious Monk, The Chantels, Rebel Diaz, among many others) with a Bronx relationship.

The Boogie Down Booth was built by a partnership among the Department of Transportation, the Design Trust for Public Space, and the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation.

The Boogie Down Booth was built by a partnership among the Department of Transportation, the Design Trust for Public Space, and the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation.

Seis del Sur sin Límites will run through Sept. 20, 2014

Bronx Music Heritage Center
1303 Louis Niñe Boulevard
South Bronx NY
Call for hours: 917-565-2727
Price: free
Getting there: 2 or 5 to Freeman Street or BX 19 bus

Julia Vitullo-Martin is a senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association. Get in touch with her @JuliaManhattan.

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