Mitchell Schorr, a street artist famous for his spray painted race cars, used lockdown to turn Manhattan into his creative playground for all to see and enjoy.
With a long background of being featured in museums all over the world, Schorr began painting boarded up buildings in Manhattan when David Burke asked him to add some life to an ugly corner outside of his restaurant on 62nd at Lexington.
The “Da Race” series started on a street corner in front of a popular restaurant and has spread all over the city. Exemplifying what he calls the energy of street art, the series speaks to all. “Everyone has a car memory. Maybe the first kiss in a car or your first accident,” he says.
The series is shown in numerous spots all over the city, especially boarded up windows. One of the curiosities onlookers will notice is the addition of an ice cream truck among the race cars.
“Every time you saw it, it seemed to be the same, but a different car or ice cream truck was in the lead,” Schorr explained. “Kids always want the ice cream truck to win. The underdog. They have this wonderful belief that the ice cream truck’s going to win the race.”
The artist speaks often of childhood whimsy and the innocence of childhood memories.
“The ice cream trucks started as these memories of something happy,” he said. “When this truck came around, I was just happy and got what appeared to be free ice cream, even though it was my parents paying for it.”
Schorr began creating art at 9 years old but, he got his real start doing street art in the 90s. “It was a strip bar called Billy’s Topless at 24th & 6th. I asked the owner, a 90 year old guy with a scorpion tattoo on his hand, if I could paint a mural on the wall and he asked how much. He paid me $2000 to paint the mural and I hadn’t expected to get paid anything at all. The mural was there for ten years,” he said.
Having been working as an artist in the city for so long, he feels a sense of duty to create works that spark joy and showcase beauty during these dark times.
“It’s difficult, especially now with the way things are going,” he said. “How can you be happy if you lost your job or had a loved one die from the coronavirus?”
“That was the best thing — to have someone write that to you and say, ‘You changed my life. You’ve given me a smile when the world seems to be dumping on everything.’”
Mitchell Schorr’s series, “Da Race” can be seen in numerous locations throughout New York now. But, hurry, there’s no way to know how long they will stay up.