It’s hard to miss The Wall, an 8-storey high facade at 599 Broadway overlooking Houston Street to its north. The bright blue wall supports 42 green aluminum bars bolted to steel braces, looking like an army of plastic army ships at sea or a large, predictable Plinko board.
This piece is also known as The Gateway to Soho, and it was created by Forrest “Frosty” Myers first in 1973, and then again 24 years later. He first made it for a small commission of $2,000 from City Walls, Inc., a group of artists that transformed several blank facades into artworks throughout the 1970s.
While the group is no longer around, much of their art still exists—but it’s not always easy to keep it up, both financially and literally on the wall. This piece was almost lost in 1997 when the building’s owners complained to the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the artwork had caused leaks and structural damage to the building. After a lengthy legal battle, a compromise was reached: the art would be removed during the renovation of the building, then reinstalled 30’ higher so the bottom of the wall could be used for advertising space.
This compromise made sense. Back when the work was originally created, City Walls, Inc. simply asked the building owner for permission. Soho was a different area in the 1970s, and nowadays it would be nearly impossible to convince a Soho building owner to sacrifice advertising space in one of the world’s most famous neighborhoods for art.
Although many of Frosty’s sculptures are large, one of his most intriguing works is tiny: the “Moon Museum” is a ¾ inch x ½ inch ceramic tile initiated by Frosty and containing a drawing by him, Andy Warhol, and each of four other artists. Rumor has it the piece was sneaked into the Apollo 12 space mission of 1969 and left on the moon, creating the first “museum” in space.
|1997||Owners of 599 Broadway file complaint with city over artwork|
|2002||Removed for building repairs|
|2004||City sued 599 Broadway owners to replace artwork|
|sight||Houston Street Expansion|
|internal||The Wall - Wiki|
|internal||The Village in 2005 on the re-installation|
|internal||SoHo Memory City Walls to City Malls|