Submitted by Elif Merve Unsal

A mural on the street of Manhattan's Chinatown: "The Song of Dragons and Flowers"

United States - Aug 6, 2018 - 02:45   3539 views

"I felt like I wanted to do something for my people and for the city," said Chinese artist Chen Dongfan who has turned the 200-foot length Doyers street in Chinatown, Manhattan into a stunning mural. 

Doyers Street in Chinatown has a dark history when you back to the early 20th century. It earned the nickname "the bloody angle" because Chinatown gans shooting along the valley and the street was so violent and stained red. 

A century later, Chen Dongfan created the work called "The Song of Dragon and Flowers," through the seasonal street art program by the New York City Department of Transportation and Chinatown Partnership, which aims to create temporary art-filled spaces for pedestrians.

Image © Christopher Lee

Mr. Chen, who has created murals in public spaces around the world, was chosen from a group of 11 applicants through a public request to display this season's design.

"I had this vision: 100 years ago, Doyers Street had blood on the street,” he said, "and every morning people needed to clean the blood from the alley. But 100 years later, this bloody alley is covered by a beautiful mural," he said.

Image © NBC New York

The asphalt art mural seeks to highlight the historical significance of Doyers Street and the history of Asian American immigration to the United States of America. The artist chooses to capture the soul and spirit of the dragon, as a visual embodiment of the area and the lasting Chinese cultural heritage. The flowers are the symbol of peace in response to the history of Chinatown. Together they compose a song with an exuberant and dynamic rhythm.


Image © NBC New York

He started painting in the last month. After putting down four layers of white acrylic paint, he began applying his kaleidoscope design. He kept his paints on a cart that he pushed back and forth between the Bowery and Pell Street. After putting final touches and his signature, the street has opened again to the public on 1st of August. 

Image © Christopher Lee

The artist describes his work as "not about dreams, but rather a kind of reality, a kind of memory, a mental world, the intersection between sensation and illusion, which requires time to find a way in. The mural was drawing quite a crowd that indeed did stop and stare, all along the small, winding street, trying to find a way into its meaning  and very unsure if they should walk on it or alongside it."

Image © Christopher Lee

New York City has built more than 70 pedestrian plazas and continues to add more through its seasonal street program. Alana Morales, deputy press secretary for the Department of Transportation, said Doyers Street was the "ideal location for an asphalt mural given the size and scale of the street." A second seasonal mural is in the garment district.

As part of the initiative, the street will be a pedestrian plaza, with no daytime vehicular traffic, through the 1st of November. 

Come by for a stroll, grab a seat, and enjoy all that Chinatown has to offer. 

Top image © Herman Yung

> via Chen Dongfan/Facebook