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How & Nosm and 'The Day After' on the Houston Wall

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Jaime Rojo
Jaime Rojo

New Mural Pays Tribute to Wall's Owner, His Family, and New Yorkers

The newly painted Goldman Wall is here on Bowery and Houston Street for you to pour over; a dense and storied depiction of the trials and tribulations that no one escapes, deftly rendered with cans and brushes in precise and purposeful strokes. A huge NYC tattoo of life lessons and metaphors by How and Nosm, the new mural is their tribute to a city recovering from a crippling storm and to the memory of the neighborhood guy who turned this wall into an institution, Tony Goldman.

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

"It wasn't premeditated, but we painted this wall during a very tough time for New York City, and at a very tough time for those who loved Tony and who admired his dedication to art in the streets. Our work always depicts life; with both its dark and bright side."

No strangers to hard times, the twins know the street. With their work they study and pull apart and reconstruct the duality of daily existence, swinging on the pendulum of extremes, looking for balance somewhere in between, trying to avoid getting caught in the storm. Partners and brothers, philosophers and students, How and Nosm mark this wall with a stylized "X" at the intersection of Houston and Bowery, where a wind battered and flooded Manhattan sat this autumn for days in darkness while it's northern half was still illuminated; our beloved city fumbling for it's footing, unbalanced and off-kilter. The "X" locates Tony Goldman's gift like a pin dropped on your aerial GPS map, but it also marks a central location of the 1970s/80s raging "Downtown" art scene where it began; a signpost for myriad interlocking lifelines and a genesis for one of New Yorks' longest-running street art exhibitions.

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With an auto reflexive line drawing style that leads one story into the next, the circular spinning of tales and small universes invite you to look into the drama and observe; tight winding info-graphics of an undulating life, glorious and dreadful in it's functional dysfunction. A perfect storm contained in one large canvas, this one sometimes bubbles over. Each vignette is instructive, playfully honoring and negating while the twins interrupt each other to give you a running commentary on society, the environment, politics, psychology, family, a maybe a bit of spirituality.

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Plain-talking gents in the rough, How and Nosm have been rising steadily for two decades to a now global stature on the graffiti/street art/fine art stage. Born in the Basque country, raised in Germany, the firey twins who are known in the Bronx as graffiti kings with the Tats Cru are living all-Brooklyn now. Bringing their lunch to Manhattan every day while painting because no businesses were open, working only in the day because there were no working streetlights... the mural itself becomes yet one more New York tale of determination. "People kept stopping on the sidewalk to tell us how much they appreciated that we came out at such a tough time to beautify and to bring some color to the city. Most thought it was very uplifting and we felt we did the right thing by coming out," say the artists.

From Haring to Scharf, Fairey and Faile, the many New York stories spawned by and sprayed onto this wall have given it a pivotal place in Street Art history while Houston Street's boisterous traffic and Manhattan's lust for reinvention have rushed past it for three decades. Now as we rebuild from the storm, How and Nosm remind you that there is "The Day After," a compelling invitation and unabashed encouragement to those battered brothers and sisters who had their doubts. "There will always be a day after and it will get better for sure," the brothers say.

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

From the sidewalk you can look up at a rotating solar system of vignettes and stories as they cluster and revolve around an invisible central power source. How and Nosm walk with you on the sidewalk looking upward, describing their tales and metaphors, sometimes dark and harrowing, sometimes comforting, never pandering. Painted in their signature black, white, and red, these tightly coiled inner stories are tied to their biographies as much as the timeless trials and joys that are more universal -- the ones that bind us one to the other.

"On the right hand side you find a black half circle with a face depicting the approach of something bad about to happen, like the storm. On the left you see the red half circle rise up again," the duo said.

"On the very top left side you can see a person holding a black heart trying to pass it on while riding on a bull. You have to be very strong to be able to ride a bull -- which means you have to be strong during these challenging times and find a way to support those in need."

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Every life is full with stories, like this wall is. Here is a boat that has broken apart, there a crowd protecting birds from attack, and over there an entire scene balancing on the back of a whale. One central image is described as a group hug of a family bound together during adversity. Perhaps this one is How and Nosms' nod to the City and to the Goldman family itself, who are still weathering their personal storm of grief even as they continue this, their commitment to the city.

For the brothers, it is all part of the larger piece. "So basically the wall reflects the selfishness of humans but at the same time the beauty of interaction and a commitment to love for each other in good and bad times." In these times of loss and stress and insecurity, it's hard to think of a better gift to New York.

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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This article was also posted on Brooklyn Street Art.

Read all posts by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo on The Huffington Post HERE.

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