February 15, 2016

Aby Rosen’s 11 Howard Teams Up With Groundswell And Master Artist Mentor Jeff Koons

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – 11 Howard, real estate mogul and RFR co-founder Aby Rosen’s latest venture in SoHo, will showcase the work of inspiring young artists thanks to a partnership with Groundswell, a New York community mural organization that uses creativity as a tool for change, and mentorship from renowned artist Jeff Koons.


The team of youth artists has created a site-specific mural on the hotel’s 150 foot-by-50-foot South-facing wall that celebrates the history and culture of SoHo. Music, food, fashion and the industries of yesteryear are featured among the mural’s symbols, including a bird on an illuminated wire, which reflects the ambiance in and around SoHo; a crown paying homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was part of the artistic movement that made SoHo famous in the 1980s; referencing to Little Italy and the thriving restaurant scene of the area; and the silhouette of a female figure to symbolize the fashion sense and metropolitan spirit of the area.


"It’s my pleasure to work with the youth group from Groundswell on the Howard Street mural. This is a very creative team of young artists, and it’s rare to see a group with such a unified vision. I’ve enjoyed working with the artists during the conception of their idea,” Koons said.


The design of the mural was not only inspired by the neighborhood. The artists from Groundswell – all students – visited Aby Rosen’s office at RFR to view pieces from his personal art collection, as well as the neighborhood around 11 Howard. Each artist developed their own design concepts for the mural and then came together to develop a final design that drew on all of their ideas. Misha Tyutyunik – Groundswell’s lead artist for the project – refined these concepts to produce a single comprehensive design. The team brought this final design into Jeff Koons’ studio for Koons’ personal feedback and a creative discussion about what inspires his art, the historical references in the piece, the creative process and use of color. He challenged them to think of ways to add further richness and depth to the mural by layering and varying color, highlighting specific content elements and considering different mediums that could be applied to the brick wall to create variety.


“The design shows the history and culture of SOHO: the music, food, fashion as well as the industries that formerly existed within the neighborhood. It evokes the commercial refinement of present-day SoHo, but also alludes to its spirit of surprise and discovery, encouraging pedestrians to stroll and wander through the winding side streets to window shop, to find new wonders or uncover relics of bygone days. The design is simple yet complex enough to tell the story and capture the energy of the day life and nightlife of SoHo and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Tyutyunik said.


The artists initially developed designs that were a kaleidoscope of color, but ultimately decided that black and white would make a more dynamic impact given the monumental scale of the mural and its visibility. They decided to add the accent color of blue to help move the eye around the mural. 


The students who designed the mural – who also serve as artist apprentices at Groundswell - are Gabriela Balderas, Anayshah Bashier, Durell Baxter, Nafeesa Davis, Claire Haviland, Nathaniel James, and Publio Lantiqua. Overall Murals, Inc. executed the mural design on the wall at 11 Howard.


Since 1996, Groundswell has been New York City’s leading organization dedicated to community public art, bringing together youth, artists and community partners to make public art that advances social change for a more just and equitable world. These projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue.


For more information and to book a reservation, visit http://www.11howard.com/. 11 Howard is part of Design Hotels Inc.


For more information on Groundswell, visit www.groundswell.nyc.




About RFR

RFR is a fully integrated real estate investment firm based in New York City with a core focus on select urban markets in the United States and Germany. Founded by Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs in the early 1990's, the firm has been an active force in the New York City and German real estate market for much of the past two decades. RFR's portfolio has grown to include more than 100 properties located in select domestic and international markets.  While its property portfolio is anchored in the Manhattan and key German commercial markets, RFR also has significant commercial, residential, hotel, and retail holdings.  RFR has a proven track record of adding significant value to the properties it acquires through property-level repositioning and strategic financial engineering. RFR has created an organization with deep experience in all phases of the property life cycle and is positioned to take advantage of market opportunities.


About Groundswell

In 1996, a group of New York City artists, educators, and activists founded Groundswell with the belief that collaborative art-making combines the sanctity of personal expression with the strength of community activism -- and produces unique and powerful outcomes.


Nineteen years later, nearly 500 murals have been completed by Groundswell, working with groups of underserved, marginalized, and economically disadvantaged youth and professional artists, in collaboration with more than 300 community-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and government agencies throughout New York City. These compelling artworks demonstrate Groundswell's enduring belief that art creates community and community creates change.


Since its founding, youth in Groundswell's programs have worked with professional artists and community organizations to transform nearly 500 public spaces, developing high-quality works of art and creating visible change in neighborhoods that are infrequently the focus of beautification projects. Each day, Groundswell artworks touch the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.


Project Process

Groundswell's lead artist for the project, Misha Tyutyunik, ran mural design sessions as an afterschool program with seven youth recruited from across NYC. These youth are skilled apprentices, having served on multiple Groundswell projects. The program included research, visual literacy exercises and design workshops focused on engaging the participants in activities to generate ideas and images for the mural. The mural team met with RFR Holding representatives to review the goals, objectives and design specifications for the mural design. The also met with internationally renowned artist Jeff Koons.


After the research and design workshops, the Groundswell lead artist developed a cohesive design for the mural that reflects the concepts and ideas of the youth participants. The design was then executed by Overall Murals, a commercial mural advertising firm. Groundswell's teams ordinarily paint their own works, but the large scale of the wall at 11 Howard and RFR's timetable for the execution of the mural prompted the use of a 3rd party fabricator.