Nosy Neighbor: What’s this on the side of Pier 40?
S. was the first of many to write: “I’m so curious- do you know what this is? It is on the side of Pier 40. It started pretty recently and says “I Want To Thank You.”
It’s art! And it is the work of the highly recognized street artist Stephen (ESPO) Powers who was commissioned by the (RED) foundation and The Global Fund as part of their recent (and ongoing) campaigns to eradicate AIDS worldwide. The Global Fund has a broader mission to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, and has united 60 countries to do it, but this particular piece is about AIDS. Paint (RED) Save Lives will produce 20 murals and installations in major cities over the next several weeks.
Powers is a West Village resident with a studio in Tribeca who has shown at the Brooklyn Museum (and has amazing work in his hometown of Philly and other spots) so you see his many connections to the neighborhood and Pier 40. And there’s another local connection: The message is intended for the activists who have fought AIDS for these past decades, with a nod to the Paradise Garage, the LGBT nightlife landmark that was on King Street, just around the corner from Pier 40, and closed in 1987.
The mural is temporary, since the Hudson River Park Trust will have to restore the facade of the pier next year.
Both organizations are pretty amazing — for instance, (RED) takes no overhead from the money it raises, which is unique when it comes to non-profits. To date, (RED) has generated more than $600 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, eSwatini, Tanzania and Zambia. The Global Fund has invested around $4 billion a year to keep prevention, treatment, counseling, testing and care programs running around the world.
And I love that it seems to have installed this soundtrack permanently in my head everytime I walk in the park (and this video will give you chills, it is so charming and heartwarming):