Close Encounters of the Artistic Kind

Close Encounters of the Artistic Kind with Pedro Silva

The 1st of May, 2022 happened to be a Sunday. I was meandering my way to Washington Square Park in the late afternoon, hoping to catch the cherry blossoms while the sun was still out. I was walking behind a lady – who I was later introduced to as Sarah – who unexpectedly turned to me and asked if I would be open to stepping into an optical store to have my portrait done by an artist. This was an intriguing enough proposition for me to say yes of course as I love to find art in unexpected places, and turned out to be one of those New York experiences that just make the magic happen for me in the City.

I stepped inside the store to find a wall full of black and white drawings of faces, which happens to be just the kind of art I gravitate towards. I was introduced to Pedro Silva, the artist, who is working on a series of portraits of people wearing glasses. So I put my sunglasses on, and it took Pedro just a couple of minutes to sketch my face with a big bold black brush. It was an incredible likeness!!

I got chatting with Pedro and Sarah, and Pedro asked if I would like to see the art he has been working on in the basement. I had to go a quick gut check to see if I was okay following a complete stranger into a basement, and I decided to take a chance. Best decision ever! I got to experience Pedro’s new work, which ranged from the plaster on the walls that had been marked as if the artist was counting down the days, which Pedro confirmed was his intention, to a striking painting on canvas that was a commission, and painting on the walls for his next project called Million Dollar Painting, with a mirror that he is working on for a performance piece that I hope to go back for in a couple of weeks. The furniture was super interesting as it was inspired by – and is made up of – cardboard boxes that were piling up on the streets during the pandemic thanks to all the online orders, which Pedro and his friend Stefan J. Martin repurposed into tables and chairs that are surprisingly comfortable to sit on. It was interesting to learn that Pedro finds inspiration for his art through meditation, and he believes in the Hindu goddess Laxmi.

Given I was in an optical store, Sarah graciously offered to clean both my pairs of glasses, which she not only cleaned but also tightened and gave back to me with a new case and cleaning cloth, which was unexpected.

I did find shades of the public art portrait project called Inside Out New York by JR in the portraits, which Pedro was familiar with, and in fact there was a photograph taken by JR in the store! I also thought Pedro’s art would translate well into the Midnight Moment digital art project in Times Square, which would be fun to see. You can read about Inside Out New York and Midnight Moment in my post on Public Art in Times Square here.

I wanted to own the portrait that Pedro had done of me of course, which I did end up investing in, so I had to sit down and pose for another one for Pedro to add to his project.

Pedro, Sarah and I are now connected on Instagram, I have invited them on a podcast that I am working on with a friend, and I will be having them over for some home cooked Indian food to my place sometime this summer.


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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.


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