It rained heavily this morning, but this portrait of Obama and Hillary by Jordan-born sidewalk artist Hani Shihada can still be found on Broadway and 109th Street.
Hani has been making public art in NYC since 1985. He can be found all over New York City from April to October. Part of the Italian tradition of madonnari, street painters who typically use charcoal, white chalk, and bits of roof tiles, he started his career in Perugia, Italy. His works last for this long because he makes his pastels himself and then, applies a thin film of acrylic to the finished work. Yet, like the Tibetan sand mandala, his works also eventually fade and vanish.
I’ve been enjoying walking by this particular work over the last several weeks. Though I didn’t get to see Hani work on the painting, it was interesting to watch people’s responses as Obama began to appear next to Hillary (she was there first), how they make sure to walk around the art, to not step on it. (Granted, this is the liberal, left-leaning Upper West Side!)
I checked in with Hani. If you want to catch him at work, he is currently creating an outdoor mural on 10th Avenue and 40th Street, from now through the 17th of August or thereabouts. (Incidentally, it was a commission he received from someone who had seen his Hilobama piece.)