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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! It’s a Heckuva Town!

SophieBlackall1 267x300 The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!When you come to visit New York City you might want to see some art of the children’s literary variety.  To do so you’ve a couple different options.  You could figure out where various artists are having shows.  You could find permanent locations around the city where their art is on display.  Or you could take the subway.

Every day I take the 2 or 3 train to work.  It’s a mere hop, skip, and a jump from my home, a twenty minute ride, and then a hop, skip and a jump to my workplace.  Often there are no seats so I stand in the aisles, my eyeballs prey to whatever advertisement happens to be floating before them.  That’s why I’ve always been so grateful for MTA’s Arts for Transit program.  Suddenly the dull minutes on the train are turned into a lovely game of Guess-the-Children’s-Author (yes, my life can essentially be boiled down to different moment of thinking about children’s books). For you see, suspended where an ad would normally go are these little art cards.  And many sport some familiar names.

In the past there were some lovely ones out there. The earliest one was by subway darling Peter Sis (who, if rumors are true, designed the art for an entire station somewhere as well).  It was essentially a colorized version of this:

PeterSisSubway The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!

Then for a little while in 2004 there the eclectic duo of Stefan Hagen and Sloane Tanen were all the rage.  Do you remember them?  They did books like Coco All Year Round and Where Is Coco Going? They were trendy for a little while, then disappeared entirely.  But while those two were shining in the sun, they made an art card too:

HagenSubway1 1024x219 The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!

Back in 2008 Chris Gall, the man behind such fabulous books as Dinotrux and Dear Fish made this little beauty:

ChrisGallSubway The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!

I like that on his website Gall writes of it, “And though many of you emailing me have claimed to see a metaphor for the Last Supper, any such similarity is strictly coincidental!”

It came out in 2011, but it was only recently that I noticed that R. Gregory Christie (most recently of It Jes’ Happened) had an art card of his own:

R.GregorySubway 1023x217 The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!

And last but not least in the least, Sophie Blackall (Big Red Lollipop and so much more) recently posted on her blog an encapsulation of her own poster, mentioning who she decided to include and who got cut.  She slices her poster into pieces for you to see.  Here’s my favorite section:

SophieBlackallSubway2 The Artists Paint in a Hole in the Ground. New York, New York! Its a Heckuva Town!

If you would like to buy any of the posters I’ve shown here today, you’re in luck.  the MTA store sells them for $25 with proceeds going directly to the not-for-profit New York Transit Museum’s exhibitions and education programs.  And you can see all the posters here (I’m sure there are a couple children’s illustrators lurking in there that I missed).

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. That is SO wonderful! When I lived in NYC in the mid to late 90s they had a similar program, but with poetry called “Poetry in Motion.” I used to look forward to my daily commute to spot new poems (and then wonder about them longer after I had left the bus or subway car.)

  2. You can see Peter Sis’s mosaics at 86th & Lex where the 4.5, and 6 trains stop. Took me by surprise one day as I was hurrying out of the station. MTA Arts is a wonderful program. Love Sophie’s poster.

  3. Cecilia says:

    Etsy.com also posted a video of Blackall talking about her process in creating the poster. It’s pretty awesome.

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