Ernest Zacharevic Painting Martha Cooper in Brooklyn

If you are looking for a neighborhood that is analogous to what the Lower East Side of Manhattan was like in the 1970s, you have to go to the outer part of the outer boroughs because very few working class everyday people can afford to live on the island anymore. When photographer Martha Cooper was shooting with black and white film in those days the LES was more or less a bombed-out scene of urban abandonment and municipal decay.

Drugs were prevalent, so were gangs, police were not. Nor were jobs, opportunities or parks that kids could safely play in. Cooper was interested in capturing the games that kids devised, sometimes out of the most common items that were available – like giving a ride to your brother by commandeering his stroller around the sidewalk at top speed.


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lithuanian Street Artist Ernest Zacharevic is sitting cross-legged on a sidewalk in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is rapidly changing – at least that’s what real estate interests have banked on. On a typical weekday you will see many families struggling to keep the bills paid, more carefully selecting food and household items from the stores along Broadway and Graham Avenue and Metropolitan than in previous years – many just balancing their payments, others falling behind. Here on a graffiti tagged wall Zacharevic is painting with brushes to bring Cooper’s 37 year old photo from Manhattan to life in Brooklyn.


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As he has done in Malaysia principally and in selected other cities in Europe, Zacharevic is creating street art that includes a sculptural aspect that pops his portraits out from the wall, bringing the street scene closer to you, somehow closer to life. The image of children at play is integrated with its surroundings, a scene that may be repeated in the flesh here on the sidewalk while you watch him carefully checking his source image and replicating with brush.

In this second of three installations he is creating in New York using Cooper’s photos, Ernest is an unassuming figure and completely focused on his work as the car horns honk, brakes squeal, and the elevated train rumbles inelegantly overhead. In fact, most people walk by without taking note of his work and few stop to ask a question, so integrated is his small scene with the surroundings.


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Ernest Zacharevic x Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


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