Boarded-up storefronts provide new canvas for graffiti in New York City
The blank plywood panels that went up over closed stores in New York have not remained blank for long.
According to the New York Police Department, complaints about graffiti are down compared to last year, but it's clear that the panels covering closed stores have provided new opportunities for graffiti artists of all stripes. Some of the panels are decorated with uplifting messages, like this one on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, but others are the odd scribbles and symbols unique to each tagger.
Roaming the streets of New York, photographer John Taggart said the proliferation of graffiti reminded him of the New York of the 1980s.
Graffiti tags cover the wall of a sunglass boutique in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood on May 7.
An empty store in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood.
A closed store in SoHo.
"Soho, normally home to shopping and tourists, is now one of the most vacant and quiet parts of the city, with almost no people. It is almost the perfect place for artists to practice their craft, kind of a return to its artist roots," says Taggart.
Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.
Canal Street in SoHo.
There was plenty of graffiti in New York City before the pandemic, but Taggart notes that a lot of it wouldn't usually be visible during the day. "I saw a vast canvas of art that normally would not be present. The metal gates that protect businesses after they close at night are often the blank canvas of some amazing graffiti artists, and now that they are all down all day long, the graffiti has grown like weeds."
The MoMA Design store in SoHo.
A cryptic message decorates the side of a restaurant in SoHo.
A cyclist passes an empty store on 7th Avenue in Manhattan.
East Broadway in Manhattan's Chinatown.
A USPS truck covered with tags on Canal Street in Chinatown.