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penis broome street
Reuters/Andrew Kelly
“Looks kinda phallic to me.”
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An artist has found a way to shock jaded New Yorkers

By Rosie Spinks

Manhattan’s Lower East Side is known as New York City’s most colorful and historical neighborhood. From the beat poets and radical socialists in the early-to-mid 20th century, to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Patti Smith in the 1970s, the storied section of the city has seen its fair share of artistic expression and upheaval.

But on Christmas eve, one artist went too far, even for a neighborhood as open-minded as the LES. If you want to turn some Manhattanites into pearl-clutching art critics, a mural of a giant, pink, veiny penis on Broome Street is the way to do it.

The piece, painted by Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt, was not an act of rogue artistry or graffiti. A companion piece to her large rendering of a vulva on Pike Street, the four-story penis mural was commissioned by a street art foundation called the New Allen.

That said, the group reportedly skipped the important step of getting city permission for the mural. While some defended her right to expression, complaints were lodged as fast as the Instagram likes and comments piled up. Scaffolding was quickly erected to remove the piece. By Wednesday afternoon, according to NBC News New York, it was no longer visible.

For her part, the artist said the piece was meant to prompt discussion about sexual violence and to challenge body shaming. In an Instagram post on Christmas eve, she described the positive reaction she encountered: “I have never heard so much laughter and seen so many happy faces behind my back when painting as for today doing this wall on Broome Street.”