Washington Market Park Picnic Tables Become Canvases for Artist's 'Apes'

Brandon Sines completes one of his seven Frank Apes in Washington Market Park on May 2. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

May. 04, 2023

Take a seat at any one of Washington Market Park’s seven picnic tables these days and you’ll be joining the visage of an oddly lovable primate named Frank Ape. Basketball player, yoga practitioner, gardener, Frank’s persona morphs from one tabletop to the next. He is the creation of Brandon Sines (“Sines” is his artist name), who in the course of about four hours this past rainy, sleety Tuesday, painted seven Frank Apes at the invitation of the Friends of Washington Market Park.

It all began with an Instagram post in February, when Sines asked where he should create his next artwork. The park’s board jumped at the chance to enliven the bright green benches with Sine’s trademark ape. 

“I hope people will come to the park and have a favorite bench and identify with different Franks,” said the artist, 37, whose deceptively simple street art character adorns all sorts of public spaces around the city, including a fence at the World Trade Center where Frank Apes occupy a widely viewed 100-foot-long mural titled “Everyone’s Different and Everyone’s the Same.”

Practically as soon as the paint had dried, Sines’s work was receiving rave reviews from parkgoers. “It looks cool and interesting,” said Mio Mizuguchi, 9, who declared her favorite Frank to be the one imprinted with “I Heart New York. “It’s colorful,” she said. “Next time I come here I’m going to sit at that table.”

Mark Ashin said the 10-year-old boy he babysits immediately picked a favorite. “He walks in and says, ‘We’re going to the basketball one, right?’” As for Ashin, he says his favorite so far is also the “I Heart New York” Frank.  “But they’re all so new,” he added. “I’ve not browsed the gallery.”

Sines was 25 and trying to find his voice, he said, when he created Frank Ape in 2011. “Pretty much right away I started sharing him with the world and people began to identify with him,” said the artist, who donated his work to the Tribeca park. “It felt like a vehicle to connect with a lot of people.” 

“It began to feel more like a voice of the people as opposed to just me,” he added. “Frank represents everyone.”