Monthly Archives: May 2005

Downtown Mars Rover Stencil

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Here’s a cool stencil we’ve seen all around downtown New York City for a long time. From Tribeca and SoHo to Chinatown and the East Village, this stencil of a Mars Rover-type vehicle is a regular reminder of NASA’s mission to the mysterious red planet in the 1990’s. But wait, maybe it’s not supposed to be a Mars rover at all. Maybe the stencil is one of those remote control robots that are used for checking bombs. And notice the vehicle’s probing, grappling arms are lifting a bag of money. Hmmm …

Ivan Corsa Photo

All Kinds of Alterations – Chinatown

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Hey, “All kinds of alterations done,” folks! Gotta the love the Chinese boy and girl characters flanking the message on the left and right, which you see on the doors of various Chinese dry-cleaners/tailors/laundromat shops. The imagery is rooted in a tradition, we imagine. The touch that really makes this signage classic DIY are the adhesive letters. Mom-and-pop all the way! But this signage goes the distance — look closely and you’ll see that that wide cellophane packing tape has been placed over the lettering in strips to keep it from falling off (or being ripped off). This signage rules!

Ivan Corsa Photo

SSUR Plus Storefront at Night

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We love the store front to the SSURPlus select clothing shop in New York City. Regular visitors to this site may recall an earlier photo of the SSURPlus boutique many months ago. That shot was taken in the day. But this one-of-a-kind store window with it’s etched-glass Bruce Lee motif takes on a whole other look at night when it’s illuminated. The backlit glass makes the SSURPlus shop in NoLIta an unmissable presence on the stretch of Spring Street between Elizabeth Street and The Bowery. The shop sells hoodies, graphic tees, jeans and downtown-inspired gear with that certain dollop of hip-hop flava that brings kids here from as far as Tokyo and Stockholm looking for fresh, original style.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Super Graf Van Paste-Up

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Visual irony at street level: a wheat-paste paper cut-out of a van covered in graf tags. We love it. This piece of street art was found in the East Village. Wouldn’t this image be cool as a graphic tee shirt? We could see someone like Nigo / A Bathing Ape or maybe Zoo York using this kind of imagery in clothing design.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Bally Produce Logo on Truck, Little Italy/Chinatown, NYC

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We spotted this truck on a block in downtown New York City where Chinatown and Little Italy converge, overlapping each over to create a an weird, intermingling sino-italian cultural landscape of dim-sum palaces and trattorias. In any event, we just thought the logo on this truck for “Bally Produce Corp.” was a really cool piece of graphic design and brand/identity, especially in the way it incorporates Chinese pictograms.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Art Cow Project, East Village

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Cow Parade was a major public art event to visit several foreign and U.S. cities, including New York City, in the early 2000’s. The project entailed the placement of hundreds or thousands of often brightly painted life-size models of cows, each decorated by an artist. This cow was placed in the front garden area of a converted East Village townhouse apartment building.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Smart Graf – SoHo, NYC

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This piece of graf is in the heart of SoHo shopping district, where all the landmarked cast-iron buildings and mega lofts that real estate agents drool over can be found. The “up” is by “Smart.” Note the backwards “R” in Smart. Highly stylized tags can sometimes be read like typographic Rorshach tests — suggestive of letters that are what want to think they are. This one is tough to read, especially given its circular compactness. The edges on the left sides suggest crab claws. At any rate, the writer was good enough to underscore authorship with a sub-tag.

Ivan Corsa Photo

African Dude Head Stencil

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If you’re not looking carefully, you might easily miss this stencil as you’re walking by it on the street because this work is really small. In that way and in the utter simplicity of it — a man’s head –this stencil is a subtle piece of street art.

Ivan Corsa Photo

“Fred” Up on Truck, Spring Street, SoHo

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This truck is the bizzomb!!! Or rather, the graf makes this truck the bizzomb. You can always find this truck parked in SoHo near the intersection of Spring and Greene streets. The “Fred” in this art work is is the Fred Rogers of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood fame. Everytime we see this truck, which is almost every day, we smile on the inside (and sometimes on the outside, too). The graf is a work of art and the quality speaks for itself.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Kaws Michelin Sticker

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New York City-based Kaws is an art star of the global street art and graf worlds. His work can be found in massive white-wall gallery exhbitions and on the street, as is the case of this black and green sticker, which looks like Kaws’ take on the Michelin Man character-logo. There are books devoted to his work in several languages, and Kaws has a cult following in here and in Japan.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Moss Logo Window Display, SoHo

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Moss is an example of high-end contemporary design at the retail level. The store, on Greene St., in SoHo, is a temple to clever, expensive and beautiful furniture, household goods and decorative objects. All of it for sale. We love the Moss logo and the store’s window displays, which change frequently and are worthy of a semi-regular walk-by to check out the latest. At Moss, you’ll find a $300.00 pair of silver chopsticks. And someone will buy them. We like to think of Moss as a design museum, but one in which you can buy the object exhbited.

Ivan Corsa Photo

SoHo Playground Mural

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SoHo in New York City often conjures images of art galleries, artists and huge lofts. But these days the only artists and art galleries that can call SoHo home must have deep pockets and must be already firmly established. SoHo long ago became a mecca for sleek and chic urban living and expensive real estate, as well as mammoth shopping ground. SoHo is, in essence, lower Manhattan’s big unofficial outdoor shopping mall, complete with every brand-name chain store you’d find in just about any major mall in America, albeit with lots of luxury brands thrown into the retail mix. The art galleries moved on to cheaper, bigger spaces in Chelsea a decade ago. The artists got priced out a couple of decades ago. Still, SoHo retains a lot of clues to its past as an active cynosure of the international art world in the form of street art and official commisioned works of public art, as seen in this mural above a playground between Prince and Spring streets.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Downtown Panda Stencil

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If it’s pandas you want, then it’s pandas you shall get … at least as far as this example of stencil street art goes in lower Manhattan. The stencil genre has become ever more visible over the past four or five years, with a lot of Australian street artists leading the way and exporting the creative seed to places like New York City, Paris and Tokyo. Though stencils are not uncommon, they are still a niche-within-a-niche as far as art goes. Other forms/media of street art and graf lead the way in terms of visibility at street level.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Black and White Lips Galore

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It’s hard to go wrong by employing repetition. As an aesthetic principle, showing the same image, or a slight variation of an image, in multiples and in an evenly distributed fashion, equally weighted in a grid-like pattern, is a visually compelling technique. Such patterns engage the eyes and draw the viewer in. This picture shows a group of black-and-white images of lips on wheat-pasted paper sheets on a wall. The building is on that famous downtown block that is a shrine to street art and graf, the stretch of buildings between Elizabeth and Bowery streets in Nolita.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Some Graff Bombed Truck, SoHo

May 01, 2005

Some Graf Bombed Truck, SoHo

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Okay, there’s the good graff. Then there’s the really good graff. And then there’s the amazing graff. Well, his truck in the Soho cast-iron lofts district of Manhattan has been covered with graff that falls into the third and last category. This is where graff gets transcendant; where it truly becomes art at street level. But wouldn’t it be cool to just place this truck in a massive converted loft space, one that’s been turned into an art gallery with white walls? We could easily see this truck in a Chelsea gallery. Come to think of it, we could see it in the Tate Modern or MoMA. For now, the streets are the museum and the residents looking out from their luxury apartments have permanent views of the exhibition.

Ivan Corsa Photo