Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

by Bethany Maines

Anddddd… we’re back from NYC! After a week long trip to the Big Apple where we sampled the food, the night life, the culture and of course, the shopping, I realized that I may possibly be the only vactioner who includes signs as part of my list of tourist attractions. I’m not talking the big important monuments, I’m talking about the little tragedies of government signage or the er… “modifications” that have occurred to everyday signs.

As I back-tracked through the subway to capture this beauty about the Essex Street subway stop, I received strange looks from locals and my friends a like. Personally, I think this sign “correction” shows a flare of genius! The sign artist had to capitalize on the multitude of “wet paint” signs that were at a previous stop and apply them to the Essex St. sign without getting caught by the MTA employees and without committing the cardinal New York sin – getting in the way of people trying to get on the subway.

The Essex St. sign is second only to the series of masterpieces I captured while on honeymoon in the Virgin Islands. The Dip Series showed not only a one-time creativity, but the extended oeuvre of the artist. And while the Dip Series artist might not have been faced the threat of law enforcement the way the Essex St. artist was, his/her odds of getting run over were much higher.

A second category of sign that I much appreciate is what I term “unintentional art.” It’s a category exemplified by this little gem discovered in Brooklyn. Yes, that’s a New York City Department of Environmental Protection truck, and yes, it wants “Gasoline Only.”  Because gasoline is what environmental protection is all about, right?

Then there’s this classic from a previous trip to New York. Yup, that electrically lit sign is indeed telling you that it’s conserving electricity.

So as we march through life looking for the next “important” thing to look at, I think it’s also imperative to remember the advice I once got from my mother as I pushed a pull door – “Stop and read the sign.”


  1. hysterical!
    its funny how every day things can cause a smile to spread across our faces

    1. Indeed! Funny things are all around us - we just have to see them!