Snapshot New York: Street artist Hans Honschar spreads messages of hope right beneath your feet
NEW YORK - For decades, street art has contributed to New York's cultural identity and has become part of the cityscape.
It's as if the city itself is speaking to you from its walls, and sometimes, it's right under your feet.
"I like going to MOMA and gallery shows and see the very exclusive world. Here I'm bringing art to the streets," Hans Honschar said.
The city is its own gallery. From private installations, to murals, to art that stands alone. Honschar makes the city his canvas.
"People say, 'I love New York." I love New Yorkers. I love just the strength of what it takes to endure," he said.
Honschar has become famous for creating art that doesn't last. His medium is chalk.
"I love the colors, themselves," he said. "I just love to keep it bright. Usually, I start with yellow to catch the eye."
He softens the chalk in water, changing its consistency and making it more like paint.
For more than two centuries, Washington Square Park has been one of the city's most densely used green spaces. Adding to its colorful history is a new shade of joy.
"If someone's takes the time to read this, I want to create a little bit of happiness for them," Honschar said. "It's a general love song to the city of New York."
Honschar has spent the past seven years painting our streets with notes of optimism, cheer and love.
"You know your mom used to put notes in your lunchbox? 'Do your best.' 'Keep going.' I think this is kind of lunchbox notes for the whole city," Honschar said.
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When asked if he views himself as a mother to the Big Apple, "Five-second affirmations to give you that little boost."
He works quick, so fans have to chase him down just to compliment him.
Some artists become more famous because of the art they create and sell in galleries, but the art Honschar is creating is a gift to anyone who walks by.
"That's part of the beauty of it," he said. "It's just there for a little while. It's very ephemeral. It'll last maybe three days until the weather comes and takes it away."
Honschar is a poet, an entertainer and a modern day street philosopher. His art grabs your attention because his handwriting is perfect. He even earns commissions for lettering store fronts and menu boards.
His father was in construction. Maybe that's why he uses a tool belt. His style was influenced by an art enthusiast.
"I went to take an aptitude test at school and it said that I have good qualities to be an artist," Honschar said. "I showed my brother and he said, 'Oh you better pick something else because they don't make much money,' and today he's the country's leading psychic. I'm just kidding."
It takes him about 20 minutes to finish his art. It may only last a few days, but that's enough to inspire.
When asked what he hopes people take away from his artwork, Honschar said, "Just the joy of being alive. Life is meant to be celebrated. Art should bring people together. It's the human experience, really."
"We as New Yorkers have to have some class and style and just look after each other and show the world how it's done," he added.
Honschar not only decorates sidewalks around the city, store and restaurant owners commission him to decorate their properties to attract business.
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