keepers of the gate

would you like some elbow grease with that cocktail?

It happens all the time here. You have that special corner that you always look forward to walking by. Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason as to why. It’s as if it is some unconscious indicator of where you’ve been or are going. That is (slash was) the case for me and the corner where the Downtown Auto and Tire Shop was located in lower Manhattan.  Sitting in the Bowery at the intersection of Bowery and Great Jones Streets, it was a remnant of a New York long gone.

You could always expect to see some exotic car being worked on by mechanics who once they were cleaned up were probably pretty exotic themselves. They knew their stuff though. The sounds of all things auto often flowed out onto the street reminding passerbys of who ruled that corner.

The two large black gates which opened onto the street featured profound faces created by French street artist,  WK Interact. I always loved this street art. It was big, unexpected and great contrast to the environment in which it lived. Were these portraits of the owners of the shop? I often wondered. One seemed angry and while the other looked deranged. Yet, the intensity of their expressions was hard to miss.

Being a lover of remarkable street art and the talented artists who create it, I took off to discover other works by WK Interact.  Below are a couple of golden nuggets I came across (all photos below are copyrighted by WK). Oh, and rest assured. He puts the “zzzz” in badass…

But back to my little corner.  It is rumored that the artist, Jean-Michael Basquiat, who also began his career by creating works on the street, died across the way from this auto shop.  That special vibe I sensed was on point.

But, alas, all good things come to an end. I am sad to say that the Downtown Auto and Tire Shop has been destined to become yet another bar and restaurant in the rank and file of the Bowery area. It will lavish in its fifteen minutes of trendiness like so many before it in this freshly gentrified neighborhood. Will the faces survive? Only time will tell. Maybe they will turn up in some other unsuspecting crevice of the city.

So, savor those longs walks and enjoy the view. It all could all change in the blink of an eye and a New York minute.

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