Without Advertising A Better City Finds A Home
A while back 300 West 22nd was under siege. Much to the dismay of local residents, the empty storefront was being used as a massive street level billboard. Complaints were made to the DOB by myself as well as a bevy of local individuals who thought the advertising was incongruous with the local character of Chelsea. Because the ads were illegal, they were quickly removed and the storefront sat empty for several months. Today, this storefront is being used to show artwork, having hosted at least two exhibitions that I am aware of.
While this might seems inconsequential to some, to me it is a shinning example of what happens when we as a public condemn the use of public space for commercial signage. Without the ability to make a quick buck by subjecting an unwilling public to Rupaul's Drag Race, the landlord at 300 west 22nd was forced to find other uses for his vacant property. While I am sure that hosting art shows is more labor intensive than having a company like InWindow come and adhere stickers to your property, the extra effort clearly benefits us all. The question then becomes, what would happen if we removed all outdoor advertising? would the sides of our buildings suddenly find themselves adorned with murals? Would our subway systems suddenly be ripe with commissioned artworks? No one really knows, but 300 West 22nd is a good example of what might become of our city if we chose to remove unwanted commercial signage and let the city find replacements on its own.