<body> Public Ad Campaign: El Mac Hits Chelsea and Only Because NPA is Gone
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

El Mac Hits Chelsea and Only Because NPA is Gone

I made a post on a new El Mac mural a few days ago and was quickly contacted by Tim Strazza of Joshua Liner to correct some mistakes I had made in attribution. This post is a revised version of that post with information directly from the parties responsible for the newest El Mac installation in NYC. I apologize to Joshua Liner for the mistake which resulted from a misunderstood statement made at the recent Brooklynite show.

Images Via luna Park

While there are countless examples of advertising taking over a location previously devoted to murals and other forms of public media production, there are few of the reverse. That said, with recent abandonments by NPA, or Contest Promotions depending on when you started following their illegal advertising activities, prime walls are slowly becoming available. Not only this but artists are beginning to fill in the blanks and adorn our city with street level mural work that the rest of the world has been enjoying for quite some time.
Remember this image that went up directly after NPA had begun the first round of illegal billboard removal? Well El Mac recently added his own touch to this wall and produced a stunning portrait for the city to enjoy. According to Mr. Strazza at Joshua Liner, the mural was conceived after the gallery found out that the owner of the building at 26th and 10th was unhappy with the mural which went up directly after NPA had removed its illegal signage. According to Tim, they have no interest in using the mural as advertising for the gallery or of retaining any curatorial control over this location, something I would not be against considering the mural comes with no plug for the gallery or the artist and is truly a gift to the public at large. The gallery hopes that the neighborhood enjoys the work and that it will stay for as long as possible. According to our sources, the employees at the auto body shop whose wall this mural is painted on, love the work and have taken to referring to the mural in the third person as one would a worthy sea vessel.
While we continually decry outdoor advertisings psychological abuses of the public at large, physical intrusions play an important role in advertisings incompatibility with a potentially healthy public space. By monetizing and occupying as much space as possible, advertising often prevents public media productions by holding public space captive to the highest bidder. This El Mac production is a perfect example of how other media might enliven our public environment in the absence of advertising, keeping New York public space vibrant and commercial free.
Lastly, it is important to take notice of the change in attitude that the auto body workers have had towards the public wall which they share with the community. This new production allows them to take pride in their building and the character of their establishment. They have gained a psychological attachment to public space through the El Mac mural. It is as if this gift from the artist, understood to be such, is then returned to the public through the workers new found concern for the space they share with us. I guarantee if someone comes and tags this wall they will have to deal with the workers who will stand up for this public space because it is now a representation of themselves. In this way, art can do what advertising on the streets cannot, physically and psychological tie the public to public space in ways which further our connection and protection of our shared environments.

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