It was a dark and stormy afternoon when I first spotted this unique piece of sculpture bolted to a street sign on East 13th Street (near Ave A). I went in for a closer look:
Designs inspired by nature form the largest group of more than 10,000 wallpapers in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Often, a wallpaper theme would tie-in with the room’s use: designs of food were popular for dining rooms and water motifs dominated in bathrooms. The modern bathroom. with a designated space indoors, running water and flush toilets, had been developed by the late nineteenth century. Given the concerns for hygiene and running water, ceramic tiles were the preferred wall-covering because of their durability and sanitary nature. For those on a budget, early wallpapers imitated this look with varnished tile patterns.
Around 1910, bathrooms shifted away from this sterile, hygienic look to become a more pleasant, decorative room that was harmonious with the home’s decor. Some moisture-resistant coverings were introduced in the early 1900‘s, but general-use wallpapers at this time were printed with water-soluble pigments and thus were unsuitable for use in bathrooms.
By 1934, the development of washable wallpapers coincided with a new array of decorative papers that had no hint of their sanitary past; rather, scenic designs featuring more panoramic views, as seen here, became popular, appealing to decorators and homeowners who wanted to bring the outdoors inside.
Sea Beauties Scenic Wallpaper (1920 – 35, Ideal Wall Decoration) seen here in this three-panel set, contains a lively underwater view of fish, shells, coral and plant life in their natural habitat. Multiple sets could be used to wrap around the bathroom, creating an immersive environment.
This early water-resistant design is printed in oil colors, so it could withstand the moisture and occasional splash from the tub, giving the wallpaper both a practical and decorative purpose.
Photographed in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Upper Manhattan.
For Want of a Nail is an installation by the MTA Arts for Transit Design Team and the Museum of Natural History consisting of bronze, granite, ceramic and glass mosaic murals. The project represents a study of the evolution of life starting from the big bang to the present day. The southern stairway to the lower level, downtown C Train features a multi-wall ceramic tiel mosaic mural of vibrant ocean life forms.
See more of the For Want of a Nail project at this post.
Hey what’s up. I just got home from a very fun cruise to ports in Canada and Maine and enjoyed taking lots of holiday snaps of cool things which I will now share with you on this rad blog in the coming weeks. The Shark Attack Street Sign pictured above was spotted in Lunenburg, in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. There were all kinds of different fish depicted on colorful, elevated posts along the streets and they are a pretty cool addition to a very picturesque, historic town.
The Delancey and Essex Street Station is home to the J, M, Z, and F Trains, and also this colorful glass mosaic mural of two fish, which appear to be swimming on the surface of the water. Fun!
With minimal Googling, I discovered that the mural is called Shad Crossing, Delancey Orchard (2004) by artist Ming Fay. For the backstory, let’s go to Yelp Reviewer Tina C. from Queens, who writes:
Glass mosaics on platform and mezzanine walls symbolizes the the liveliness of the once thriving fishing marketplace in this storied Lower East Side community. Aquatic images are a metaphor for “crossing” in a glass mosaic mural on the Brooklyn-bound platform, inspired by the prominent DeLancey family’s eighteenth century farm, which stretched from the East River to the Hudson River. The farm’s cherry orchard was located where Orchard Street stands and is memorialized with radiant cherry trees on the Manhattan-bound platform.
The larger mural is adjacent to this underground directive (above) , but on the platform for the Brooklyn Bound F, you will also find these small tile mosaic Fish Heads at random intervals along the wall.
I passed by this enigmatic mural, located on the north side of 2nd Street, just west of First Avenue, (right next to Julie’s Vintage) while on the way to meet Geoffrey for lunch. Part Eagle, part, Eyeball and part Fish, this work of street art really has everything! The artist’s signature is visible in the lower, right corner of the above image, but I am unable to decipher it or find him or her via a search for “Jonac” — which is what the signature appears to say. Any clues on the artist’s identity, please leave it in the comments – thanks!
Note: The artist has been correctly identified as Lonac in the comments below, many thanks!!