Wednesday, August 6, 2014


"Is it art?" (to quote everyone, everywhere, at some time or another.)

Yes, particularly if it's a piece of the Berlin Wall, sandwiched in one of New York's many nooks and crannies.  (The realtor owner generously placed it in the public eye when it turned out the floors of his apartment would not stand up to the weight of the concrete.)

Actually, we just showed you the Berlin Wall segment to insert pictures of ourselves.  Now that we've taken care of that, let's talk about Art Everywhere, a "public celebration of great American art exhibited on thousands of … advertising displays across America … includ[ing] billboards, bus shelters, [and] subway posters…  This August, cherished American artworks will be seen by millions of people every day when they are commuting to work, taking the kids to school, hailing a taxi, shopping in a mall, catching a bus or pursuing other routine activities."  (Click on the link to learn more, including what cities are participating.)

What a great idea!

So we set out to find some art hiding in plain sight.

Here's John Singer Sargent's Dorothy, painted in 1900.  We could have photographed it without the garbage can, but this is how most pedestrians will discover it - a breath of fresh air, an invigorating change from the braying advertisements usually plastered on the sides of phone kiosks.

On the side of a newsstand in Times Square there was this wonderful 1932 painting, Pueblo Woman, by Emil Bisttram.  Every thirty seconds it changed - mostly to advertising, but every fifth change or so was another painting.  There was no way to photograph her without some reflections of the pervasive neon lights of Times Square, but perhaps one could call that interactive art.  (And anyway, although the camera catches everything, the focused eye automatically filters out what it doesn't want to see.)

The exhibitors chose the broad side of another newsstand to exhibit Charles Sheeler's Classic Landscape (1931).  All the paintings shown are from major American museums.  Classic Landscape is from the collection of the National Gallery of Washington D.C.

We could show you several others, but let's insert a bit of variety here.  Is the Naked Cowboy art?  If he were painted or sculpted, everyone would say yes.  Can he be art if he's not painted or sculpted?  We know some of our readers are saying right now "But he IS sculpted!"

Nestled between a garbage can and lighted ads as big as the Eiffel Tower is the SnackBox.  Isn't it art?

IDB Bank plays with the concept of repousse doors, so popular in the Machine Age, and updates them for the modern eye.

Last year the Lexington Hotel put art in its windows that clearly references Fritz Lang's movie Metropolis.

Even the sidewalk is decorated in New York.  (But is it art?)

(Many thanks to Brendan, who kindly took the Berlin Wall photos one recent evening!)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, it's all art! Anything appreciated with the eye is art.
    I love noticing bits of creative expression here and there in Seattle. Sometimes artists can even get their designs accepted as patterns on freeway walls here. I love the extra effort when art is accepted into communities this way. It would be boring without it.