Times Square serves as canvas for city’s largest vinyl mural 

Pop artist Domingo Zapata, standing on a suspended rig several floors over Times Square at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, smiles as he works on his mural at One Times Square on Friday. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Artist Domingo Zapata is trying to do something “spectacular” with his 15-story “Life is a Dream” at One Times Square.

Pop artist Domingo Zapata, standing on a suspended rig several floors over Times Square at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, smiles as he works on his mural at One Times Square on Friday.
Pop artist Domingo Zapata, standing on a suspended rig several floors over Times Square at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, smiles as he works on his mural at One Times Square on Friday.

In a harness 300 feet in the air, with nothing between him and the pavement except for a metal rig, SoHo artist Domingo Zapata has been putting brush to canvas in Times Square, creating what will be the largest vinyl mural in New York City.

The Spanish transplant has been piecing together the 30,000-square-foot artwork, which documents his journey from Spain to New York City, for about eight hours every day for the past week. 

"I am afraid of heights," Zapata told amNewYork on Monday about the 15-story work that wraps around One Times Square. "When I look down, it’s like ‘Wow! What is this? Where is the mat down there (like they have during movie filming)? Where are those guys?’ I have to think about what is around me. I can’t look down, I just look at the mural, and after a while, I get used to it." 

Domingo Zapata, right, stands with part of his team as they descend One Times Square on a suspended rig before working on his mural on the side of the building on Friday.
Domingo Zapata, right, stands with part of his team as they descend One Times Square on a suspended rig before working on his mural on the side of the building on Friday. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

The mural, "Life Is A Dream," is essentially a retrospective of his work across 20 years, including his "Pop" series — "Flowers," "Panda" and "Bullfight & Flamenco." He also makes a reference to painting alongside Pope Francis at the Vatican in March 2019.

Zapata, 44, said he wants to spread positive energy in Times Square.

"In dreams, everything is possible," he said. "For me, being a kid from Spain and from a family with little resources to being an artist in New York City for 20 years and being able to produce a piece in an iconic place — that’s why life is a dream."

The work was first printed on large pieces of vinyl that were wrapped around the building leading up to Aug. 12. Since then, he has been painting on the vinyl to add details.

After it is showcased for a month, the mural will be taken down in pieces and repurposed as smaller works and clothing, which will be donated to nonprofits Scholas Occurrentes and Elevate New York. 

Domingo Zapata's mural "Life Is A Dream" will be up through September in Times Square.
Domingo Zapata’s mural "Life Is A Dream" will be up through September in Times Square. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

The installation coincides with how Jamestown, the building’s owner, seeks to give artists a platform and add to the city’s public space.

"We can create non-commercial moments and experiences that benefit the public," Michael Phillips, the president of Jamestown, said. "This installation could have been in any major gallery or museum, but instead, it’s on display in a public space for the community to experience at no cost."

For Zapata, it’s a game-changer.

"I get to create something that is public, for everybody, in a place where you know millions of people are walking by," he said. "I’m trying to do something different, spectacular. It’s half the size of the Guinness World Record. I guess now I gotta find a bigger building."

Shaye Weaver