In New York City amidst of all the closures and protest there is a surge of beautiful art on plywood in Soho — recently the talented Brendan T McNally who along with several artists, collectively identify as the Soho Renaissance Factory have been a part of the movement. The crew that banded together during the pandemic shutdown in SoHo never stopped painting the streets as part of the city’s comeback. In fact, they were recently awarded a month long residency at the NOMO Hotel in SoHo on Lafayette street, where the now unused nightclub has become their studio and home base.
Focusing on contemporary portraiture, Brendan blends realism with abstract visual elements to capture the emotional essence of his subject and explore the complexity of human nature. After studying at the Columbus College of Art and Design, Brendan spent six years traveling to 15 different countries in the United States Air Force. That exposure to different cultures and diverse peoples helped inform and enrich his interest in human portraiture. Upon completing his contract with the military, Brendan spent five years working in New York City as a professional gallery and commission artist.
The role of public art in the city’s comeback can’t be overlooked. Despite challenging times, artists are still drawn to SoHo because of its culturally rich history as a hub of creativity. SoHo’s Post-Covid future remains as uncertain as the election now that the city is embarking on a major effort to upzone the historical district. But for now, the SoHo Renaissance Crew and many other street artists have tons of fresh plywood to showcase their talent. The difference this time, though, is that the boards aren’t really blank; they are already primed with local politics, as it’s small businesses, and artist loft residences that are all at stake with Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning efforts.
SoHo Renaissance Factory collective believe that their work not only inspires and educates the public but also “beautifies” the neighborhood. Street art like those created on boarded-up storefronts or commissioned as murals for security gates also work as a deterrent to everyday graffiti tags.