Watch your step around Union Square and Washington Square Park or you might step on a bad luck spot. These chalk-drawn circles have been rerouting superstitious New York City pedestrians as they maneuver around them. If you’re lucky though, you might find a good luck spot, a hugging spot, or a singing spot, among others. The playful and sometimes poignant chalk drawings are the work of New York City artist Felix Morelo.
The Colombian/American artist started making these chalk drawings way back in 2010. “I got inspired by trying to enhance or complete a previous body of work, which consisted of a trail of chalk faces. A fellow artist mentioned that I had people following my artwork and that I should have something at the end, waiting for them, as a surprise, reward, or treat, and that is how the “good luck spot” first appeared,” he told Untapped New York.
Since then, his repertoire of spots has grown to encompass a wide range of activities and emotions. Aside from the bad and good luck spots, Morelo has created funny and entertaining spots like a farting spot, kissing spot, laughing spot, healing spot, enlightenment spot, and dancing spot. “I am constantly brainstorming for more ideas,” Morelo says. Public reaction to Morelo’s spots has been largely positive, but he has received some criticism for the prevalence of “bad luck spots” versus “good luck spots” from superstitious walkers, which he posts on Instagram.
After drawing the spots, Morelo often steps back and watches how people react to them. “I often take videos or photos afterward and analyze the behaviors or actions people do and alter the artwork according to people’s behaviors,” he told Untapped New York. He posts many of these reactions on Instagram. During the Covid-19 pandemic, circles showed New Yorkers how to safely socially distance, but Morelo’s circles often inspire people to come together.
“The interventions are social experiments that deal with human psychology and with aspects of advertising to question superstition, taboos, stigmas, and show how the power of words evoke a range of emotions,” Morelo says of his intentions in drawing these spots. “The interactive artwork invites the public to participate, react, or discuss whatever is written inside the circles. The aim of the circles is for people to break out of their everyday routines, express themselves, question their belief systems, and have fun by engaging with the artwork.”
Morelo’s chalk spots come in all different sizes. Sometimes they are perfectly round and sometimes they are warped by their surroundings. They are often in multiple colors, but sometimes only one color. They can stand alone and cover a large area, or be part of a group of smaller circles spread out across a wide space.
You might catch him selling painted paper versions of his spots out of his mini portable storefront. In addition to the chalk drawings and mini paper spots that you can purchase, you can find Morelo’s spots as a painted mural on the side of a building at Houston and Thompson Streets.
Next, check out 10 Public Art Installations to See in April