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Zacharevic-NewYork-UntappedCities-NikkiLohr-001“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.

Replay-ErnestZacharevic-004“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.

Replay-ErnestZacharevic-006“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).

Zacharevic-NewYork-UntappedCities-NikkiLohr“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.”

Replay-ErnestZacharevic-002“You be the Kid I’ll be the Mum” at 1268 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn. Photo by Martha Cooper.

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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.”

Zacharevic3-NewYork-UntappedCities-NikkiLohr

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.

Replay-ErnestZacharevic-003“Boy on a Fence” on 107th Street and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan. Photo by Ernest Zacharevic.

Zacharevic2-NewYork-UntappedCities-NikkiLohr“Cowboys and Crooks” on a van parked on Franklin Avenue and Lafayette, Brooklyn.

Replay-ErnestZacharevic-004Photo by Ernest Zacharevic

Next, check out vintage photographs of the Meatpacking District in the ’90s and check out some of our favorite street art murals of 2015.

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