A New Wave of Appreciation for the Man Who Drew New York

A somber gathering of artists and illustrators took place at a gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on a recent Friday evening. They were there for a Wright auction preview of the drawings and personal belongings of Jason Polan, the celebrated New York street artist who died of cancer at 37 in 2020.

The auction, “I Want to Know All of You: The Art & Collection of Jason Polan,” is part of a new initiative to preserve his legacy, but as the night carried on, Mr. Polan’s friends seemed content just to be in the presence of objects that let them feel closer to him.

A few guests wiped away tears as they looked at his impressionist sketches of city life. They included scenes of a hot dog vendor on Broadway, a woman carrying balloons on Canal Street and the fashion influencer Derek Blasberg ambling down Greene Street.

A hug during the recent showing of Mr. Polan’s work.Credit…Winnie Au for The New York Times
A gallery-goer spends time with his sketches.Credit…Winnie Au for The New York Times

The librarian Whitney Lee, left, and the artist Matt Leines take in the exhibition of Mr. Polan’s work and ephemera.Credit…Winnie Au for The New York Times

Armed with a Uniball pen and a Strathmore sketchpad, Mr. Polan chronicled the life of the city with an observational hunger that earned him the status of a doodling New York folk hero.

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