In places like New York City, hit just about any spot and you can get yourself a greasy NY-style street slice and at least a glimpse of some dope graffiti. But that's New York for you; a place where all the good parts of urban life (well, and all the bad) are never more than a stone's throw from where you're standing. Here in Shanghai, things are a bit too safe and cosmopolitan for that – it's easy to say that it doesn't really do the bold and gritty. And keeping that refined and orderly image means that street art, be it graffiti or sticker-adorned telephone poles, is seriously kept at bay. Besides the active and always changing M50
graffiti wall (which has been set to be torn down for some years), where do you go for some rough edge and a whiff of spray paint?
As of this week you can at least catch a little glimpse of the vibe, and right smack in the middle of the city at that. Joe's Pizza
, the much-loved classic NYC slice joint that hit Nanjing Xi Lu last winter, has invited illustrator and street artist Brolga
to deck out the side of their shop with a Shanghai-meets-New York City mural. The Australian-born but Brooklyn-based artist will be brush in hand through the end of the week (shitty weather permitting).
We paid Brolga a quick visit to see what the mural is all about. 'The first mural I painted was for Joe’s Pizza [in New York]; one of Mohammed Ali, and it’s had a lot of attention and has done really well with the shop. It was out of pure coincidence that six months after I painted the mural he died, and it kind of became a tribute point for all of the Brooklyn fans of Ali.'
'Since then I’ve had a bit of an affiliation with Joe's and they said they have this new store, and that it's kind of hard to get street art done over here. I jumped at the chance; I really wanted to show some of my work in China and maybe show some art that's a little bit different to what people see normally.'
In terms of the theme, Brolga is bringing the two cities together via paint. 'I just wanted to join the Brooklyn/NY vibe with the local Shanghai vibe,' he says. 'I’ve got "Hello Shanghai" in the local dialect, and just kind of mixing in NYC and some American aspects: a flag, some iconic buildings in New York... then I heard people love riding bikes around here, so I threw a bike in there, and then mixed it all in with the Shanghai vibe – a dragon, a few other things in the city. I'm just trying to combine them both and make something really fun, really pop-y, pretty vibrant.'
Though the brand only opened in Shanghai at the start of 2017, Greenwich Village-based Joe's Pizza has been a New York institution since the '70s. Our mates over at Time Out New York
even have grabbing a slice at Joe's on their checklist of 100 things every New Yorker needs to do
. As one of the few places in Shanghai to get real piece of NY-style pie, it's on its way to pizza fame here too. Stop by this week for a slice and a glimpse at Brolga's mural.