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Covered-up 1950s mosaic mural
is on public view again in NYC


A recently uncovered 1950s mural adorning the entrance facade of a Manhattan office tower has been restored and is again visible to the public.

The hand-cut glass tile mural was created by noted mosaic artist Max Spivak in 1958 for the 34-story building known as 5 Bryant Park at 40th Street and Sixth Avenue. It depicts colorful abstract forms of garment workers' tools against a luminous gold background.

The 40-foot-by-18-foot mural was discovered in March after workers renovating the building removed aluminum panels placed over it during an earlier modernization. Passers-by could see the artwork in its entirety Friday. The restoration was undertaken by the building's owner, the Blackstone Group and Equity Office.

The Municipal Art Society of New York commended the company for recognizing the importance of preserving the historic mural. The organization helped connect Blackstone to Stephen Miotto, who restored the work. Miotto, a mosaic craftsman, met Spivak as a boy through his godfather, Carlo Rett, who owned a Bronx art mosaic company.

When Rett died, Miotto inherited a lot of the old mosaic tiles, "which was great because he could use them to fill in missing spaces" in restoration, said Phyllis Cohen of the art society's "Adopt -a-Monument/Adopt-a-Mural" program.

Spivak was a Poland-born artist who studied at Cooper Union and in Paris. His murals can be found at two other New York City locations: at a library in Astoria, Queens, and in a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop that once housed a Manhattan deli.


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