NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A colorful mural on the Lower East Side has drawn curious looks, and some outrage.
A penis was painted on the side of the building – but it wasn’t there too long.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, the sight at the building on Broome Street between Forsyth and Eldridge streets was so striking that many stopped to take a selfie.
“It’s great, it’s fantastic,” one passerby said.
“Oh my God, it’s crazy,” another said.
“It’s a little risqué, but it’s New York,” said Wendy Seminski. “I guess like they say, anything goes here.”
But others who live and work near the pink and red painted penis were not pleased.
“It’s awful,” said Wing Ho, who works next door.
The mural was painted Sunday, Christmas Eve morning. Since then, many complained to the local community board.
Crews splattered gray over the mural Wednesday afternoon.
“There’s two schools within the zone around here, so kids have to walk past this,” said Staci Crosbi.
“So I don’t think that part is appropriate for kids.”
The painting was commissioned by the nonprofit foundation The New Allen and was created by Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt.
In a statement that included many vulgar terms for both male and female genitalia, Falkholt explained that her goal is to make it so people are not ashamed of their bodies.
“Many of my murals, including these, are about not feeling ashamed of your body and who you are as a sexual being. You can be a woman with a (penis) and a man with a (vagina) at the same time. Or something else—whatever you want to be. It is all up to yourself, and not society, to decide what gender you are,” Falkholt wrote. “We live in cultures where sexual violence and sexual abuse are constantly happening. And there are a lot of raped and abused children who have lost their voices due to the shame that comes with having their own bodies violated at a young age.”
Falkholt also noted in the statement that people also use vulgar terms for male and female genitals as insults.
“I wonder why we use the words for our genitals to say someone is bad? I think that causes a major conflict within you when growing up learning that your sex is something bad or disgusting that you are supposed to feel ashamed of. I want to change that by using those words in my work and charging them with sexpositive powers. No more bodyshaming,” she wrote. “Talking about these subjects in public space is a must for a healthy, nonviolent community/world. And the dialogue created around feminist public art pieces raises awareness.”
Falkholt also recently painted a mural portraying a vagina on Pike Street.
The New Allen told CBS2 the Broome Street mural cost about $10,000 to produce, including grants from the Swedish government.
“There’s been as many people outraged as there has been so many people glad this was, you know, a total form of expression,” said Milan Jelez, director of the New Allen Street Collective, “and it raised the point of conversation, which is gender equality — so many conversations around it.”
The New Allen told CBS2 that Falkholt will be back in a few weeks to paint something new – but probably not something as bold.
CBS2 is told the landlord approved the artwork that was painted on the Broome Street building, but did not know what was going to be painted.