Anyone familiar with Sesame Street will recognize the likenesses of both Cookie Monster and The Count on the side of this well-tagged box truck, which I snapped a few photos of as it was stopped on Lafayette Street. The truck is the work of the COD Cru, a Bronx-based group of graffiti artists that’s been active since 1983! TC5 and KMS are two of the artists who left their tags on the truck. I wish I had been able to get a glimpse of the other side!
The title of Ed Ruscha’s The Old Tool & Die Building (2004) suggests that the industrial space pictured here — decorated with signage in a mix of altered, nonsensical Korean and archaic Mandarin characters, an unidentifiable corporate symbol, and graffiti — was once a place where machinists manufactured parts.
The Old Tool & Die Building is part of the Course of Empire series — a group of five paintings that revisit the subjects of Ruscha’s 1992 series Blue Collar. In those back and white canvases, the artist had pictured the industrial buildings once common to the American urban landscape. The newer paintings, rendered in color, capture old sites repurposed, abandoned, enlarged, or made obsolete
Ed Ruscha named the series after a group of paintings by the Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848). Cole’s The Course of Empire (1833 – 36) traces the transformation of an imagined civilization from an Edenic state close to nature, through the rise of culture, to a dominating Empire, and then on to decline and ruin. Although Ruscha’s coolly removed depictions do not editorialize on their subjects, like Cole’s works they chronicle the unrelenting developments and the inevitable cycles of human civilizations.
Photographed in The Whitney Museum in NYC.
A couple of variable factors kept me from getting the best possible shot of this mural depicting two of my favorite cartoon characters — Ren and Stimpy — by graffiti artist Just Another Toy (@justanothertoy1). First, it was a very overcast day, and second, there were several vehicles parked at the curb, which obscured a full-on shot of the complete piece. That is for another day perhaps.
The pink tag placed between Ren and Stimpy is not vandalism covering anything, but rather the artist’s signature, which figures prominently on most (read: all) of his pieces. The two other tags — Gold Poo and Hudson — refer to other street artists.
This piece (circa 2019) is part of the Bushwick Collective and is located on Scott Avenue between Troutman and Jefferson Streets.
I don’t own any pets, but I sometimes look after a stout English Bull Dog named Mac, who belongs to a neighbor. Mac is an extremely loving and intelligent dog, and I am so fond of him that I miss dearly him whenever I see another Bull Dog on the Street. Of course, Mac came to mind immediately when I came upon this mural of a Blue Bull Dog lounging in the grass during a recent Graffiti Art Tour in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
I definitely feel for any business owner whose security gate gets tagged repeatedly. They aren’t easy to clean off, and most of the time the spray-painted tags are illegible and just plan ugly. The owners of Trinity Unisex Salon, located on 14th Street between Avenues B and C (cheap haircuts, ladies!) can take some comfort at least in the fact that their gate was tagged with a fun, hungry Shark, which in turn has supplied me with the image for this post. I’m all about finding a silver lining.
Shark Attack on the storefront!
The first time I saw the name “Ian Knife” it was gouged into the top of a tree stump on Avenue A that had been carefully carved and painted to resemble the head of an Alligator. Impressive.
I’m not sure how long the Alligator Stump has been there, but I swear I only noticed it for the first time this past summer, when I was doing more than my fair share of walking in the neighborhood because everything was closed due to the Covid (#CovidLife). I didn’t realize at the time that Ian Knife was the name of the artist; I just assumed it was a dick move by some inconsiderate ass taking delight in tagging the Alligator’s face by carving his name into it. Because that is what people do.
Some time later, I started seeing the tag Knife spray-painted literally fucking everywhere from the East River Park throughout the East Village. Curious, I looked-up Ian Knife on the Google and I found this pretty cool article about his work as a Tree Stump Artist. I’m glad he is getting his name out there because his work is unique and fun.
Knife’s tree stump carvings, a few of which are described in the above article, are scattered all over the East Village, where he lives. This one of a ‘Man Behind Bars‘ is on First Avenue between St. Mark’s Place and Ninth Street.
If I spot more of Ian’s tree stump carvings I’ll add them to this post! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled!
The Covid Life walks have lead me to all sorts of unexpected, magical discoveries! That might have something to do with the fact that I am now regularly exploring streets that, three months ago, I did not know existed. Case in point: Columbia Street. “Where The Fuck is That” you ask? It’s on the LES near Delancey, and walking north it eventually turns into Avenue D. But it was on Columbia Street, that I saw this box truck idling in front of a grocery store, bearing Buff Monster’s awesome pink tag, along with his signature Mr. Melty character. Sweet.