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Trying to beautify Lower Manhattan’s eyesores

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BY Helaina N. Hovitz

If you live or work in Lower Manhattan, you no longer need to visit a gallery to see work by one of the world’s most renowned artists.

Richard Pasquarelli’s “Restore the View” was installed last week on Barclay Street and West Broadway at CUNY’S Fiterman Hall site as part of the Alliance for Downtown New York’s ongoing Re: Construction project. The goal of the public art program is to convert various construction sites below Canal Street into “urban canvases.”

Pasquarelli will be the first artist in the program to have multiple exhibits on display when “Restore the View” is accompanied by two other pieces to be installed at other sites later this month.

“It’s exciting for me that my work can be part of the rebuilding and revitalization of the area,” said Pasquarelli, whose work hangs in galleries worldwide from Paris to Madrid and in the Library of Congress.

“Restore the View” is painted along the scaffolding that overlooks a park where workers take their lunch breaks.

“The little clouds definitely make the site more appealing,” said Frank Rizzo, a trader at Merrill Lynch in 2 World Financial Center.

Unfortunately, Rizzo was the only one who seemed to notice.

“Now that you pointed it out…yeah, I kind of like it,” said Walter Louis, an analyst who workers at 7 World Trade Center. “But it’s not big enough to catch anyone’s eye.”

Steven Addonisio, who works at 101 Barclay Street, also failed to realize the artwork was there.

“Well, it’s not much to look at,” he said. “But it’s a pleasant addition to the area.”

Maya Barkai’s “Walking Men 99,” on the other hand, is nearly impossible to miss, as it wraps around the entire Silverstein Properties construction site at 99 Church Street. Nabeel Muhamaad drives his limousine past the site every day, and finds the artwork, which was installed in January, surprisingly refreshing.

“You usually just see advertisements and movie posters posted up on construction sites,” said Muhammad. “This is much better. It’s so beautiful that I look at it every time I’m stopped at the light.”

Re: Construction was founded in 2007 by a $1.5 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Each of the participating Re:Construction artists is chosen through an open competition process. The artists work with both public agencies and private owners to conceptualize artwork for each individual site. Pasquarelli’s “Secret Gardens” will be installed on a 1000-foot long chain link fence on Chambers Street between West Street and West Broadway, and “Hours of the Day” will be installed at the W Hotel at 123 Washington Street.