The long corridor that connects 1-2-3 and N-Q-R platforms (or in other words connecting Interborough Rapid Transit and Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit lines) at 42nd street houses one of the stranger fruits of Art for Transit program. A series of signs that spell out a poem: “OVERSLEPT, SO TIRED. IF LATE, GET FIRED? WHY BOTHER? WHY THE PAIN? JUST GO HOME DO IT AGAIN.”
This monumental Burma Shave ad-inspired work by Norman B. Colp was supposed to be temporary, but apparently it has served a daily dose of doom and gloom to countless late commuters for a decade or so. I remember seeing it years ago, and thought – what a neat-o keen quirky piece of art. But seeing it again today I thought about those people whose commute actually involves seeing this “artwork” on a daily basis. I guess most people can just tune it out, but I bet that semi-autistic programmers must find it rather unpleasant.
Burma Shave story in Wikipedia turned out some interesting bits of trivia – the “Free – free / a trip to Mars / for 900 / empty jars / Burma-Shave” ad an the guy who took them up on the offer as a precursor to the Pepsi Harrier jet fiasco.
I did a bit of digging and found a couple more pieces by Mr. Colp: a series of four blurry pictures of what looks like a shark’s fin titled “Role Model” and series of pictured of water called “The Relative Sameness of Difference“. Yep, it looks like the subway poem signs is his stronger work, although I might say that “Role Model”, which was created for a program that put art in US diplomatic residences is deliciously ironic. It seems like Mr. Colp specializes in art that produces an immidiate response (a chuckle in this case), but is not something that you’d want hanging in one place for a long period of time.
What’s interesting, is that the abovementioned pages contain his email – ncolp [at symbol] nyc.rr.com, so if you see “SO TIRED” on a daily basis, you can let him know what you think.