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I think New Yorkers are a fan of sequences. Maybe it’s because our lives are so mobile–we’re always on our way somewhere. These are two sequences that I love in New York. The first is the poem in the tunnel between the Port Authority and Times Square, transferring from the A/C/E to the 1/2/3/7 trains. It reads:

“Overslept,
So tired.
If late,
Get fired.
Why bother?
Why the pain?
Just go home.
Do it again.”

This work was by artist Norman B. Colp and commissioned by the MTA in 1997 at a cost of $5000. The artist wrote to nycsubway.org in 2006, “The work is incomplete, for the last panel (a 24″x36″ B/W image of a slept-in bed) was removed for the station renovation last year. I do not have any info from Arts for Transit when it will be reinstalled. Also missing are wall labels at the beginning and end of the sequence which identifies the work as THE COMMUTER’S LAMENT or A CLOSE SHAVE. The second part of the title also refers to Burma Shave, a men’s product (1930’s to 60’s approx) which was well known for series of signs, like my homage.” Colp passed away in 2007.

This tunnel (like the one between the S and the 4/5/6 in Grand Central) is usually peppered with extreme evangelical Christians. Today, there was a guy bemoaning of the evilness of Satan but he really did it with pizzazz: “I like your style,” he told a girl. She took the card he was handing out and said “You’re still creepy though.” A typical New York moment. And then I got to the 7 train and saw this poster.  Europeans think our obsession with religion is weird–it’s probably partially because of what they come across in this highly trafficked transit station!

Another beloved sequence of mine is the “Library Walk” on 41st street between Madison and Park Avenue (near Bryant Park). It’s by sculptor Gregg Lefevre and is an ode to the great writers from antiquity to present. Many of the plaques appear more than once for some unknown reason. My favorite one is the one by Gertrude Stein that is backwards, with “this is not gibberish” in the top left hand corner. “The knowledge of different literatures frees one from the tyranny of the few,” reads another. It is also remarkable that many of the plaques break the fourth wall, extending onto the sidewalk.

Forever Parted: Graveyard  by Gu Cheng

Of Studies   by Francis Bacon

O Pioneers!  by Willa Cather

In My Craft or Sullen Art  by Dylan Thomas

The Plague  by Albert Camus

The Speed of Darkness  by Muriel Rukeyser

Poem  by William Carlos Williams

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There  by Lewis Carroll

Library Scene  by Robert Pinsky

The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias  by Gertrude Stein

Night and Day  by Tom Stoppard

The Day is Done  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court  by Mark Twain

New York Jew  by Alfred Kazin

Walden  by Henry David Thoreau

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird  by Wallace Stevens

Born Yesterday  by Garson Kanin

Shadows on the Grass  by Isak Dinesen

Reading Room, The New York Public Library  by Richard Eberhart

Old Newsman Writes  by Ernest Hemingway

Words Like Freedom  by Langston Hughes

The Mind is an Enchanting Thing  by Marianne Moore

Waiting for Godot  by Samuel Beckett

Too Loud a Solitude  by Bohumil Hrabal

Song of Winnie  by Gwendolyn Brooks

Areopagitica   by John Milton

1212  by Emily Dickinson

why some people be mad at me sometimes  by Lucile Clifton

The Leaning Tower  by Virginia Woolf

Letter to James Thurber  by E. B. White

Discourse on the Method  by Rene Descartes

Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views  by Pablo Picasso

Proem  by John Greenleaf Whittier

When You are Old  by William Butler Yeats

Sesame and Lilies  by John Ruskin

The Awakening  by Kate Chopin

Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey  by Thomas Jefferson

The Night Thoreau Spent in  by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

33  by Julia Alvarez

Meditations  by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Le Jour et la Nuit  by Georges Braque

Compass  by Jorge Luis Borges

Writers at Work  by William Styron

On Oscar Wilde  by Jose Marti


What other sequential pieces of art do you know about in New York or other cities?

5 Comments

  1. […] is part two of a  series on sequence art in New York City which previously covered the Commuter’s Lament in the  Port Authority-Times Square tunnel and […]

  2. […] For another great series of plaques (also incidentally close to Grand Central), check out the Library Walk. […]

  3. Laurie Joachim says:

    I LOVE the pencils the best!! The whole sequence is inspiring!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by untapped cities, untapped cities. untapped cities said: [#NYC] Some fantastic sequential art pieces in NYC, including the Library Walk and the Commuter's Lament. http://bit.ly/hwBjxx […]

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