Public art that mocks my plight

All art isn’t housed in stuffy old museums. New York is littered with public art installations.

There are two ways to get from the vile Port Authority to the Times Square subway station; you can either walk above ground down 42nd Street or you can take the underground walkway that connects the two. The tunnel is a dreary, Soviet-style passageway that’s all function and no form. It’s an avenue-long tunnel of concrete, white tile, steel I-beams and exposed florescent bulbs.

In an effort to cheer up the walk a bit, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has commissioned a series art installations (as they have in MANY subway stations throughout the city). When you walk eastward towards Seventh Avenue, as a multitude of commuters do every morning, this is the installation that greets you. It’s inspired by the classic Burma-Shave ads of the 40s where a series of sequential signs containing a word or two reveal a poem.

Remember: This is the first thing that harried commuters coming from the dark New Jersey suburbs see at 6:30 in the morning on our way to the salt mines.









I don’t know who to attribute this work to. There’s an accrediting placard on every piece of public art but I can’t find this one. On a good morning, this makes me laugh. Some mornings? Not so much.

13 thoughts on “Public art that mocks my plight

  1. when i first got a digital camera and started my art blog and i took pics of these signs and posted them as well!i formatted them together so it ran like a sequential comic art page, each photo being it’s own panel. i might have deleted it form my blog but i’ll double check as i posted it early on.being an nyc/queens resident my whole damned life i am very familiar with this tunnel as it leads to the queens bound 7 train. i too have always wondered who did this as it doesn’t really seem like your typical mta sanctioned public art piece. i always assumed it was some renegade artist who just got a step ladder and bolted the things in him/herself! wouldn’t surprise me. seeing it always make me either chuckle or feel introspective.

  2. yeah, it’s gone from my blog. i saved it on my hard drive somewhere. if you want or care i’ll email it to you. the best thing about it is i made the first panel a metrocard but it said ratrace on it instead of metrocard.

  3. Well, first of all, the title of this post in my blog feed made me laugh outright.I’ve been admiring/laughing at/reviling that particular piece for quite some time now. Great post.

  4. Jo: It’s not a matter of being easily amused! That stuff is important and breaks the monotony of a commute. Cat: I’ll bet a lot of people see them. They’re hard to miss, actually.Daisy: The cost doesn’t bother me so much, even though I paid for them (indirectly).Rob: The art breaks the routing. Or, that’s the intent.Jason: ABSOLUTELY send me a copy! Actually, it did cross my mind that this could be subversive.Leah: I felt the world should know that I’m being made fun of. Jeff: It only makes me sad on certain mornings. Sometimes, I get a chuckle out of it.Jimmy: Hearing a compliment never gets old. Thank you.

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