Murals and Neighbors: Philip Pocock’s Images of 1970s Lower East Side [PHOTOS]

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014 at 10:07 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

The Shadow on Avenue B (1980), Photo: Philip Pocock

Philip Pocock is a Canadian-born artist and photographer who spent the early eighties capturing the underbelly of the Lower East Side. But specifically the murals that adorned the bombed-out walls of the neighborhood. His photobook The Obvious Illusion: Murals from the Lower East Side, published in 1980, offers a glimpse of this expressive grassroots art and the community that welcomed it.

This image has been archived or removed.

Rivington St. (1979), Photo: Philip Pocock

Here is part of the introduction, as penned by the late art historian and critic Gregory Battcock:

A disposable culture will, in time, be disposed. The built-in temporary nature of American urban environments continues to insure perpetual decline marking a cultural sensibility devoid of conscience or concern. The murals of the Lower East Side represent, in their way, a desperate and deeply human attempt to come to terms with an urban policy and urban reality that defines and rejects human consideration. The efforts of the artists are all the more brave in that they are doomed.

Pocock contacted us this week to share some of his images from that time, as well as this early documentary (taped 1984-5) he had produced about these neighborhood murals.

Below are more of our favorite shots:

This gallery has been removed.

Recent Stories

Chinatown Garment Industry Hanging by a Thread

Once a hub of manufacturing for the city’s garment industry, there are only a few remaining factories in Chinatown from a peak in the hundreds. The localized industry, which once employed thousands of immigrant women and men, sparked an area restaurant boom in the 1970s. Yet, began to decline in the late 1980s when manufacturers started […]

Residents Unite Against Developer Plans to Swap Park for Parking on LES Waterfront

Residents on the Lower East Side waterfront may soon lose more publicly accessible outdoor space. The developer of a new super-tall plans to reduce a children’s playground to a parking lot. As excavation work commences on Chetrit Group’s 70-story, twin-towered development at 265 South Street, tenants in the adjacent building – Lands End II – […]

Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes. In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets. In […]

Excavation Begins for 70-Story South Street Towers

Cranes, and plywood, and pile-drivers, oh my! Such is the story down on the Lower East Side waterfront. Department of Buildings on April 12 issued official approval to the Chetrit Group to begin foundation activities for its dual 70-story tower at 265 South. A month later, the big trucks are mobilized. While excavation is now […]

For 7th Year Running, Greek Jewish Festival Returns to Broome Street this Weekend

After a more subdued outing last year, the Greek Jewish Festival this spring is on the rebound, pulling out the stops. It returns on Sunday for another go-round. Founded by Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street seven years ago, the event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Greek Jewish community. Years past saw crowds […]