As far as developers go, the ones at 5 Bryant Park have been doing some interesting things since the get go. Capitalizing on the street art movement in New York City, they permitted “Art Battles” in the unfinished lobby in 2013. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that a large 1950s-era glass mosaic mural by Max Spivak had been uncovered behind metal panels, added during a previous modernization of the lobby. But within hours of the article publication, the mural was covered by a blue screen.
The author of The New York Times article posted on Facebook, “Hours after my article went online urging the public to see a beautiful, newly uncovered 1950s mosaic mural on West 40th Street, the building owners erected a screen, apparently to prevent anyone from doing so.” Equity Office, the owner and manager of 5 Bryant Park does not plan on destroying the mural, but has said it would be covered up.
Time will tell what will happen officially to this mural, dotted with tools of garment workers glittering as testament to an earlier manufacturing era, with preservationists like Phyllis Cohen, the director of Adopt-a-Monument/Adopt-a-Mural at the Municipal Art Society, making statements. “It’s as if the owners moved ahead at high speed to beat all the positive reaction,” she tells the Times, “The glass mosaic murals from the late 1940s to 1960s are treasures that need to be preserved.” Hopefully the mounting public pressure will have an impact on the fate of this work of art.