Ishmael paints Ananda, with help from his friends

Ananda Hair Studio has dramatically made itself over again. 

The salon has made itself into a little art gallery, showing work from local artists of all sorts. Now the owners have turned the space over to muralist and street artist Ishmael. With artists Ben Betsalel, Vincent Luca and Dustin Spagnola, a vibrant new mural is going up inside and outside of the Broadway Street location.

A cross-section of the early 1960s has been lifted from the books, or posters, rather, and placed across the former, slightly accented walls. Drippy paisley and floral patterns in electrified swathes of yellow, green, blue and orange (with black laced in here and there) cover almost every square inch of the studio’s walls, even spilling out of the studio a bit.

Ananda, like many street-level spaces downtown, is visible through its front windows. That allows for an informative glance, but still traps the entity within the confines of the building. But no longer. The glass is suddenly more transparent. The building’s outer wall now almost seems to take a turn inwards and fall back a few yards, before rejoining the sidewalk a few yards down the line. And the color makes the entire store pop out. Or rather, it’s forced out, the floor in stark contrast to the colored backdrop. It’s like a psychedelic fish tank. This’ll make more sense if you go look at it.

The artist behind it all? Ishmael. With help, of course.

This is the third time the painter and Quinn-ian disciple has painted the space during the last 12 years. But the previous two murals never had such a color palate.

“This winter was tough, and full of discontent for a lot of folks,” Ishmael says. “I wanted to do something fun and positive to put it all behind.”

He’s taken bits and pieces from the stylings of Peter Max, Milton Glaser (I (Heart) NY) and Heinz Edelmann (Yellow Submarine!) and combined colors, shapes and patterns across Ananda’s walls. Ishmael, alongside Dustin Spagnola, Vincent Luca and Ben Betsalel, started painting on July 10, working in short stretches mostly after hours for the busy downtown salon.

As of Wednesday, the crew was adding finishing touches. Spagnola was completing a Daisy-Duke-laden lady with a wicked hairdo. A few feet to the left, Luca was set to paint one of his signature silhouettes. (You can still still see others at Coop Gallery.) This one will be a gorilla, the lead character in Daniel Quinn’s novel Ishmael. Catching on yet?

Larry Hopkins, a stylist and part of the mural’s organization, says the work will stay up for three or four months. “Then we’ll kill the whole thing and put up something new,” Hopkins says. For roughly ten days of work, the average person, maybe even the average painter would have a hard time seeing this work covered up so soon.

But Ishmael’s already ready. “Onward and upward,” he says. “I want someone else to come along and make me jealous.”


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About Kyle Sherard
Book lover, arts reporter, passerby…..

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