“Lil Crazy Legs” on 110 E 7th Street, Manhattan.
On a sunny day last fall, a man strolled down Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. As he approached Harman Street, he noticed some children scaling a black, chain-link fence. “Someone should stop those kids climbing those fences before one gets hurt,” he told a fellow passerby. The passerby nodded in agreement, but inside he smiled. The kids climbing the fence weren’t real – they were wood and paint, and the passerby was Ernest Zacharevic, the artist who made them.
“Fence Climbers” at 1411 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn. Photo by Ernest Zacharevic.
Starting last fall, the Lithuanian street artist traveled around Brooklyn and Manhattan for six weeks, painting murals. The seven-work series called “Replay” shows scenes of children playing in New York streets. They’ve become dynamic elements of the neighborhoods, brightening a dull building or creating a dialogue with graffiti on the same wall. Amazingly, all of the pieces are still up.
“Bottle” outside the Bedford-Nostrand Subway Station in Brooklyn. Photo by Ernest Zacharevic.
But the murals are more than just pretty pictures. “Replay” is a tribute to New York history. The paintings are based on famous photos of street scenes that Martha Cooper took in the ’70s and ’80s. Cooper made a name for herself during those decades when she documented the city’s underground graffiti world. (Her 1984 book Subway Art is a seminal text on New York’s golden age of metro graffiti).
“Kid Fly” at 944 Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan.
Zacharevic met Cooper a couple years ago at a street art festival in Norway. They immediately hit it off. Both captured the carefree spirit of kids – one through paint, the other through a camera. Soon they came up with the idea for “Replay.”
“You be the Kid I’ll be the Mum” at 1268 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn. Photo by Martha Cooper.
Photo by Martha Cooper.
The “Replay” paintings come in many sizes. Some aren’t more than three feet high and others take up a whole wall. “Some took hours, some days, some weeks,” said Zacharevic in an email interview with Untapped Cities.
“We managed to get permission for several locations which I used to create bigger pieces and more complicated installations that took time. However, most of the work in the series happened without permission so I had to limit my time.”
Now, months later, some of the works have been shrouded by other graffiti. But you can still see the spirit of a past New York poking through. Zacharevic captures New Yorkers — candid, uninhibited and full of life.
“Boy on a Fence” on 107th Street and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan. Photo by Ernest Zacharevic.
“Cowboys and Crooks” on a van parked on Franklin Avenue and Lafayette, Brooklyn.
Photo by Ernest Zacharevic