The regeneration of the Bowery dwarfs even the ambition of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811. Once home to fashionable, well-heeled New Yorkers, the Bowery became New York’s skid row, notable for its Bowery Bums, for most of the twentieth century. Keith Haring’s 1982 mural on the Bowery at Houston Street was a clear demonstration of how bold and beautiful the neighborhood could be. More than 30 years later, the neighborhood has revived, with several artists having exhibited at the Houston Bowery Wall, including How & Nosm, Crash, Martha Cooper, Revok and POSE, Swoon, Maya Hayuk and, most recently, Logan Hicks.
We talked to Hicks about stencil art, his “Story of My Life” mural and what ‘quintessential New York’ means to him.
How did you get into stencil art?
I started screen printing. In Baltimore, I had a massive screen print shop that I started after college. At the time, I wasn’t feeling the art scene there, so I figured I’d just screen print t-shirts. It was a good business, but ultimately I grew tired of it. Around the same time, I started reading Juxtapoz magazine, which featured artwork coming from the graffiti, hot rod and skateboard culture at the time. That type of work resonated with me, so I moved to California.
When I moved, I couldn’t take my press with me immediately, so I started stenciling as an alternative—not for commercial purposes, just as an artistic pursuit. Eventually, I did ship my press out to California, but stenciling had already become a passion. I liked the look better, I liked the process better, and my own personal artwork was taking off.
In 2000 I sold the press and started focusing exclusively on stenciling.
How long did it take to create the “Story of My Life” Bowery mural?
It was created in several stages. The photoshoot the stenciling was based on took about one week of planning and a full day of shooting.
The computer work took the better part of a month before the cutting began—which took more than 300 hours. The actual spraying of the stencils involved about one week of 12-15 hour days.
All in all, the entire process took about three months from start to finish.
Why does the color blue feature so prominently in the mural?
I just like it. I love the color blue at twilight—that moment when it’s no longer day, but not night yet either.
Who are some of the people who are featured in the mural?
My son, my mom and my girlfriend are featured prominently in the mural. My oldest friend, Clif, who I have known since I was 9. My son’s godfather, Arvay. There are high school friends, collectors of my artwork—a touch of everybody who has influenced me or been there for me since day one.
You told the New York Times that you “would hope people see the quintessential New York” in your mural. What is ‘quintessential New York’ to you?
New York City is a hectic, crazy, direct place. It’s a dance between people and cars and activity and culture and architecture that somehow syncs up together. It’s not so much a visual as it is an energy. For me, though, SoHo is quintessential New York. It’s the first neighborhood I was introduced to, so that could be why, but the cobblestones, cast-iron facades and crowded streets are what I think of when I think about New York.
What art exhibits or galleries are you excited to see in the coming months that you would recommend to NYC visitors?
Anything that curators Lori Zimmer or Natalie Kates are doing is always worth checking out. I will also have a closing show for the Bowery Mural in the upcoming months—sign up for my mailing list for the details.