• Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

NYC can’t handle public art

NYC can't handle public art

The moment the Dublin Portal, a live outdoor video feed linking Ireland and NYC, was announced on May 8, you could hear the collective shout of eight million New Yorkers:

“Uh oh!”

Because every single person with a pulse knew what the end result of dropping a barely-monitored, 24/7 Zoom call into the middle of Manhattan would be — total chaos.

And, indeed, it was.

An OnlyFans model named Ava Louise (not pictured) flashed her breasts at the Dublin Portal — a public live feed linking New York and Ireland. Michael Nagle

Who can forget last week when an OnlyFans model named Ava Louise strutted right up to that doomed screen, flashed her breasts at the Irish oglers and later announced that she “thought the people of Dublin deserved to see two New York, homegrown potatoes”?

Now, that’s what I call class.

Not to be outdone, another jackass on the Ireland side held up a video clip of the 9/11 attacks. Such valuable cross-cultural connections, these are!

All of this bad behavior was rude, obnoxious . . . and as predictable as the sunrise.

A good rule of thumb for those planning public art displays in New York City is: If you build it, they will come and deface, defile and vulgarize it.

Another person held a video clip of the 9/11 attacks. Michael Nagle

We barbarians of the five boroughs just can’t help ourselves. 

NYC won’t even allow a subway poster for a Broadway show to peacefully hang without first drawing a mustache on the leading lady.

So, why would we treat Banksy any differently?

In 2013, when the controversial British graffiti artist stenciled a little beaver on an East New York wall as part of a month-long, so-called “residency,” some vandals almost instantly spray-painted over it “we don’t need more rats!” 

I endorse that message. But wrong mammal, morons.

A Banksy work in Brooklyn was defaced by vandals in 2013. BENNY J. STUMBO

Another industrious dude tried to steal the extremely valuable drawing using a hammer and chisel.

That fracas came just four days after a separate Banksy in Red Hook was vandalized.

Even a Lower East Side mural in honor of Flaco, the escaped Central Park Zoo owl who New Yorkers rooted for like the Knicks, was ruined by yellow-green spray paint shortly after it was created this February by artist Calico Arevalo. Yes, even fallen Flaco isn’t safe.

Graffiti, by nature, is vulnerable. But what about a fancy metallic work of architecture in a posh new neighborhood packed with police and armed guards?

That’s the Vessel in Hudson Yards. Opened in 2019, it is described on its website as an “interactive artwork” and a “soaring new landmark.” 

Three people have committed suicide off the Vessel, an architectural artwork in Hudson Yards. AP

I call it a suicide pine cone.

By 2021, three people had offed themselves via the 16-story eyesore. Rather than being torn down, though, it is currently closed “while we install floor-to-ceiling steel mesh to the structure.” Tourists will be able to scale the morbid monstrosity again later this year.

One of the currently shuttered Dublin Portal’s creators told the New York Times he’d hoped the display “would be self-monitored” by friendly, conscientious New Yorkers.

Ha! The obscene acts I casually walk by daily in the East Village can’t be printed, let alone prevented. If this city of millions actively “self-monitored,” we’d be the world’s first crime-free utopia.


Take it from the huge freakin’ hot dog statue currently in Times Square: If you want your artwork to remain unscathed here, put a barricade around it and lift it off the ground. 

Even then, I’d be worried if I were that wiener. 

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