The canyons of Midtown's streets can be a dreary place, but a sliver of West 40th Street is now a little brighter. After being covered up for years, a colorful mid-century mural by artist Max Spivak has been restored and unveiled at 5 Bryant Park. The mural, measuring 40 feet 7.5 inches wide and 18 feet, 11 inches high, was first glimpsed this March, but after a story in the Times, it was again concealed. Some worried that the owner, the Blackstone Group, was going to destroy it, but thankfully that was not the case. Instead, they spent the last few months restoring the mural to its original 1957 glory, and it's once again on public display.
The mural is an abstract depiction of tools of the garment industry, which dominated the area when 5 Bryant Park was completed. "...Polymorphous forms seem to float with the joyful abandon one associates with the works of Joan Miró," writes the Times. But a closer look reveals their true identity: "A T-square sits like a great crossbow over the entrance. To the left is a yellow crescent that may well represent a shoulder mold. To the right is a blue blob that could be read as a shoe last. Once your eyes open to the possibilities, you see needles and awls and hand irons, a mannequin's head and pieces of chalk."
It's unclear exactly when the mural was covered up, but it occurred during a modernization of the building more than a decade ago. Luckily, little harm was done to the artwork, the man who led the restoration, mosaic craftsman Stephen Miotto, was able to match many of the colors "perfectly." Evidently, Miotto's grandfather may have worked with Spivak on the original piece.