Dive Into the Lower East Side with the Graffiti Concierge at Hotel Indigo

Dive Into the Lower East Side with the Graffiti Concierge at Hotel Indigo

Upon arrival to the Hotel Indigo, guests ascend to the 14th-floor sky lobby, where art by Cuban artist Lee Quinones is installed on the ceiling.

The Lower East blocks are filled with street art and museums, boutique shops and great restaurants. Here, you’ll find overlapping waves of immigrant cultures along with the works of up-and-coming street art stars decorating both the outer and inner walls of many restaurants and stores. Located in the heart of this neighborhood is the Hotel Indigo (171 Ludlow St.) with its very own Graffiti Concierge, who can point you to great street art in the area. I sat down with Christian Ribeiro, an abstract artist and longtime concierge, to hear his advice on how to maximize your visit to this vibrant art-filled area. To find out where to see new art, taste the best blueberry pancakes in the 'hood and drink coffee with cats for a good cause, read on!

LR: What exactly is a graffiti concierge?

CR: A Graffiti concierge is a program to direct our guests to see and appreciate street art in person. I help make you feel inspired and connected to the neighborhood.

LR: How did street art get its start on the Lower East Side?

CR: The Lower East Side has changed a lot, starting in the 1980s and 1990s. The biggest population was Jewish—around 60%. It turned to more Latin. The Latin people had a lot of graffiti artists: I think this shift is how it started. It has always been a neighborhood where people feel free to be themselves. It’s the only part of the city where you can see a lot of graffiti, tattoo parlors, trendy jewelry stores. People dress the way they want to. You can’t see that in Midtown.

A detail of the Lee Quinones mural found on the ceiling of the sky lobby at Hotel Indigo. Quinones gained notoriety for his subway car graffiti in the 1970s.

LR: What kind of art is at the Hotel Indigo?

CR: Lee Quinones is a famous Cuban artist—he just got married two months ago in the hotel. His art is all over, including our main lobby. On the ceiling of the space, he has a large installation (detail above).

LR: Could you talk about the venues and art visitors can find around the Hotel Indigo?

CR: Indigo Hotel embodies the neighborhood culture—art, music and fashion. The Lower East Side has some of the city’s best nightlife, trendy bars, restaurants and shops. We have a few famous artists with pieces in the area: The artist Space Invader has a tile mosaic in front of our hotel; Bradley Theodore, a premier street artist born in Turks and Caicos, has a piece in front of Hotel Chantelle (92 Ludlow St.).

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum (Courtesy of The Lower East Side Tenement Museum)

LR: Speaking of art, do you have a go-to museum in the neighborhood?

CR: The Tenement Museum [showcases the history of] immigration in the area. You can [tour tenement] buildings and see how immigrants lived in the 1880s. I love it.

LR: Describe your ideal day in the Lower East Side.

CR: Walk around the neighborhood. Have brunch at Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston St.)—I love their smoked fish bagel. Clinton Baking Company (4 Clinton St.) has amazing blueberry pancakes. Go to the Tenement Museum (103 Orchard St.) or New Museum (235 Bowery). Visit some galleries on Orchard St. You can find international and local artists there. On the way to Bowery and Grand St., there are a few small restaurants. I love discovering new ones. The other day I was walking and found a gourmet wrap restaurant, Wolfnights (99 Rivington St.), on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow. A few blocks away from the hotel on Clinton St., there’s a place called Koneko (26 Clinton St.), one of the first Japanese coffee shops [and cat cafés]. At the back of the coffee shop, there is a glass window where you can see cats playing. You can pay $16 to walk in and play with the cats. [The fee goes to the care and maintenance of the café's resident felines, fostered from Anjellicle Cat Rescue.] Something good for lunch is Empanada Mama (5 Allen St.). If you’re looking for shopping, go to Ludlow or Orchard St. There are a few small boutiques in the area.

Find the Graffiti Concierge in the ground floor lobby of the Hotel Indigo on Ludlow Street.

The graffiti Concierge is on site 7 days a week at Hotel Indigo and can be found on the ground floor where guests are coming and going from the hotel.