Let loose an all-star crew of graffiti writers and street artists inside an abandoned NYPD precinct and... well, exactly what you would expect to happen, has, in fact, happened.
For the past three weeks more than 50 artists from around the world have been tagging, spraying, and wheatpasting every interior surface on all four floors of what was once the headquarters of NYC's notorious 21st Precinct, where, among other legends of violence and corruption, Captain "Clubber" Williams earned his nickname by beating the crap out the Gas House Gang in the late 1800s.
The result of all of this aerosol mayhem is an amazing art exhibition, called 21st Precinct, which opens tonight from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on 22nd Street between First and Second Avenues. It's free, it's legal, and anyone can go. 21st Precinct will also run on Sunday afternoon, and both days next weekend as well.
Curated by Rob Aloia of Outlaw Arts, 21st Precinct features work by the likes of Elle, Pixote, RAE, Smells, Ghost, Adam Dare, Sheryo and The Yok, Lexi Bella, Vexta, Never, Mr. Toll, bunny M, Faust, GIZ, Tone Tank, Ket, and Nepo. Each artist was given an entire room, or at least a wall or two, to do whatever they wanted, and the wide range of styles and creative ideas they went into the murals and installations here jolts you with non-stop surprise and delight as you wander through.
Seriously, this is four floors of dope. An exhibition not to be missed.
As far as the building itself, the NYPD actually bailed on the 21st Precinct in 1914. The massive townhouse has changed hands and functions over the decades since, most recently providing a halfway house for LGBTQ teens. When that closed last year, developers Suzuki Capital swooped in and scheduled the structure for demolition in September—yes, to build luxury condos—but at least they let us all have a little fun first.
The 21st Precinct is located at 327 22nd Street. The opening reception is tonight from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., and then it will be open tomorrow from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., and then next Saturday and Sunday, August 23rd and 24th, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. as well.