How do some NYC residents show their love for the subway? They create Metrocard art!
My appreciation of, even fondness for, the New York City subway system is no secret: for getting places in a hurry, for making all of New York City your “neighborhood”, it’s pretty much peerless among the world’s cities.
Yes, the platforms are gross during high summer, and getting into a packed car is no fun, and there are delays on occasion, but considering that I ride the trains at least twice and usually four times every day, much more remarkable than all of that is how often the NYC subway gets me where I want to go, inexpensively and on time, with no drama.
Like any long-time NYC apartment resident, I can get nostalgic about the days of the token (I lived through several iterations of those coins), but it was the coming of the Metrocard and, especially, the introduction of the monthly unlimited Metrocard in 1998, that changed the public-transportation game here in the big town. Which is why, when you’re looking for a NYC rental apartment, as important as (more important than?) the neighborhood in which you live, are the neighborhoods to which you can get, quickly and easily, by subway.
Anyway, I was reminded of all of this because a colleague here at Urban Edge no fee rental apartments pointed out this terrific interview on Bowery Boogie with Metrocard artist Nina Boesch, who cuts up and reconfigures the city’s new public transportation icon to fantastic, collage-y effect. Or, as I call it, cool Metrocard art.
Boesch, who hails from Germany, has been living here for just over a decade now, and, like anyone with any sense or taste, has fallen in love with the town. “I’m inspired by everyday life in New York,” says Boesch. “A walk down the street triggers enough inspiration for a dozen collages.” And what began as hobby has turned slightly professional of late; one of the three East Village Bean Coffee Shops (on Second Avenue and Third Street) recently held a exhibition of Boesch’s work.
One potential snag in her future: currently Boesch gets all of her cards from discards found at stations around the city, but those free art supplies might suddenly disappear if the MTA’s latest revenue-raising scheme of adding a $1 surcharge to each new Metrocard you buy gets anywhere.
And Boesch isn’t only artist using the Metrocard as her medium. Last year the Sloan Fine Art Gallery (then on the Lower East Side; currently looking for a new home) held a fantastic show, called Single Fare 2: Please Swipe Again, for which hundreds of creative types turned some 2,000 Metrocards into works of art, usually using the plastic as a kind of canvas, but sometimes slicing and dicing them as well. This was terrific. Fingers crossed they’ll be a Single Fare 3 in the future.
Finally, there’s the gentleman pictured below, photographed here at the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim last New Year’s Day, but whom I’ve seen at other events as well, always nattily attired in a bespoke Metrocard suit. Now, THAT is true Metrocard art!
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