Taxi Cab: New York City from the Rear Seat

THE REAR SEAT: Answering Questions and Asking Questions.

The Journey of a New York City Taxi Cab

By: Al Orensanz, PhD; Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

taxi cab, new york city, angel orensanz foundation for the arts

The New York City taxi cab serves as a conduit between destinations, but also the interwoven lives of individuals within them.

Most of our day-to-day information accumulates through idle conversations, and it infiltrates our awareness unexpectedly. We interact constantly and randomly with people who talk to us or who listen to us. We are educated through radio and TV broadcasts, and we are constantly alerted by our cellular phones, iPad messages, radio transmissions and commercial ads blinking from the skyscrapers. Throughout the city, we are exposed to taxi cab drivers, vendors, compatriots, old colleagues, spouses, children, receptionists relatives and neighbors.

We traverse the city by taxi cab. Points of interest are brought in by the kaleidoscope of the streets, advertisements, shop windows. The curiosity grows and a decision has to be made: should I engage or retreat? I still have some 30-odd minutes of taxi traveling left. Let me ask the driver. He is most likely talking on a device that I do not see.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

“Light Matter” by Angel Orensanz. The commute, even by taxi cab, can be the venue for inspiration and art.

Darkness engulfs us both. He has the front window available to scout and evaluate traffic strategies. I can see the sides but not my rear window view. My options are very limited. His are much wider and diversified. The driver initiates a conversation with me. The surroundings act as a backdrop. Our conversation gets more intense and specific as our trip progresses. The backdrop of the city moves and evolves as traffic weaves around us, providing context. The centerpiece of the discourse is a reservoir of memories, references, adapted anecdotes that are formulated and adapted to this specific moment and circumstance.

You never ride a taxi twice; you never talk to the same taxi driver twice. The streets are the same, and the buildings blur and dissipate in the immediacy or the distance. The speed renders the faces imperceptible. My attention splits and divides as I interact coincidentally with the driver and the city around me: on-going conversation is syncopated and distracted every few seconds.

Inside a New York City taxi cab, the darkness surrounds both parties. Conversation is either inevitable or avoided at all costs

Inside a New York City taxi cab, the darkness surrounds both parties. Conversation is either inevitable or avoided at all costs

The questions and answers are all stereotypical. We do not see faces but we hear our voices. With that alone, we can establish a bridge of communication. Obviously, our allocated time is short; the view of our faces is limited therefore is not engaging. The context of the streets and roads we circulate speeds ahead of us fast and uncompromising. There is very limited time for self and mutual exploration. Most of the time we instinctually agree on a common subject matter inconsequential for both sides.

The last moments of engagement come when the trip is ended; and we both descend. These are very short moments, seconds, of the encounter. But they are crucial, ceremonial and engaging.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

“Light Matter” by Angel Orensanz. The voyage as a source of inspiration.

While the departure from inside the taxi is uneventful, the farewell is reduced for the most part to the paying of the fare. The departure at the airport is marked by the eventful ceremonial of many other departures and arrivals: the suitcases, the trunks, the flowers bouquets, the gift-wrapped boxes, and the garments.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

The New York City taxi cab.

The departure within the city streets and the departure at the airport have very different ceremonials for both the driver and the passenger. The taxi ride within the city has the specific limits of a domestic movement that remain within the domain of the immediate. The trip to the airport has the flare of a departure away from the confines of the routine, the familiar and the controllable.

We never look back to the departing taxi cab as it pulls into the street, having deposited us at our requested destination. The expensive and weary routine has been completed. Whether en route to an airport or twenty blocks home from work, the departure from the rear seat, from the interplay of questions and answers, results in a ever-hopeful forward glance to the journey ahead.

El escultor Angel Orensanz entra en la Plaza Tahrir de el Cairo

Precedido por un águila gigante y a caballo de un imaginario rocinante, Angel Orensanz ha entrado  en la Plaza Tahrir  de El Cairo.  Es una entrada conceptual, pero intensa y penetrante. El escultor español trata de adherirse y liderar una serie de marchas reivindicativas y transformadoras. Durante más de un ano estos movimientos populares están transformando la faz de todo el mundo árabe. Para ello Orensanz ha creado una enigmática águila que extiende sus alas protectoras y estimulantes.

Angel Orensanz art views of  Plaza Tahrir

Angel Orensanz art views on Plaza Tahrir revolts

Ahora mismo, esta águila la ha posado Orensanz sobre la Plaza Tahrir en el centro de El Cairo sobre docenas de miles de personas que piden y cantan la libertad popular.

Este concepto lo está plasmando Angel Orensanz en dibujos y fotos que van cubriendo un área de su museo en el corazón del Bajo Manhattan, donde radica su  Fundación. Allí serán visibles estas figuras vinculadas a ciudades y países que ha visto aparecer la Primavera Arabe.

La Fundación Angel  Orensanz de Nueva York prepara con esta documentación un libro que estará disponible para el mes de septiembre actual, en inglés, español y árabe y para distribución internacional.

Street Art and Activism

Street art has long been associated with activism and JR knows how to do it very well. The French photographer/artist started when he found a camera in a subway in Paris and never stopped, since then he won the TED Prize and  developed his art with passion, intelligence and humor in Bethlehem, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Delhi and a lot of other cities in the world.

His first project with that subway camera was to photograph street art around Europe, tracking the people who communicate their messages to the world on walls. As the time passed, he decided to do that do, posting his large pictures onto walls of Rome and Paris.

In 2006, JR posted huge portraits of suburban criminals from notorious outskirts of the city on the wealthy neighborhoods of Paris. The illegal project became official when Paris City Hall wrapped its own building in JR’s photos.

One year later, he got bolder and did “Face 2 Face” with his business partner Marco, which some consider the biggest illegal exhibition ever, and no wonder why, the project involved posting portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on both sides of the security fence/separation barrier.

After this project, he shifted his focus to women, as he embarked on a international trip and produced “Women are Heroes”, a project underlining the dignity of women who are target of conflict.

JR presents his art in the streets, where everyone can see, but his work also ends up in museums and galleries around the world. The mixture of art and activism never gets old and his art talks about freedom, identity, limit and commitment. And he fights for a democratic art, that does not need any institution to get exhibited and that directly expresses the essence of a place by its people (and more specifically its women).

“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.” – JR


sources: voidmirror and funambulist



Street Art Activism!

Today we’re going to take some time to talk about two street artists who also happen to be activists!

JR began as a photographer after finding a camera in the subways of Paris. Since then he has used photography to document his work, which he presents “freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not museum visitors”. As an activist JR uses his work to question things around him; such as his currently-in-work project “Wrinkles of the City”, a future exhibit that “questions the memory of a city and its inhabitants”. JR’s work is pervasive. It spreads art to people who possibly could never see it, but also invites those same individuals to help make it: “in this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators”.

Another street artist activist would be Keith Haring, who passed away on May 4, 1990. Haring began his work as a street artist after noticing unused advertising panels, and began drawing on them with chalk. For the next five years he continued with these “subway drawings”, eventually gaining international recognition for his work. Each of his works carried a social message, many of which were “created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages”. In 1988 he was diagnosed with AIDS, and a year later he founded the still running Keith Haring Foundation which goal was “to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs” as well as to expand his work.

Mid-Week Zing!

Hey Guys! It’s the middle of the week which can totally be a drag, but here’s a blog for for some edge, and some creativity!

So, if you’re a struggling, up and cominartist don’t be discouraged! Keep it going in light of the example left behind by Jean-Michel Basquait, who was a NYC street artist who made it big time. Basquait was born in Brooklyn of 1960, to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican descended mother. He started out drawing cartoons at a young age, and eventually as he matured so did his art skills. Basquait invented his SAMO graffiti character and once he moved out, started selling hand painted post-cards and t-shirts, along with forming a band called Gray. He soon develops a unique style that combines an African style with his own symbolic style, creating a completely new artistic style. He was able to exhibit some of his work in a group exhibition where you guessed it, he was noticed by new York art critics and put him on the artistic radar! From there on Basquait made a name for himself in Europe, New York and Japan, and continued his artwork. He also was the youngest artist to ever exhibit his work in major galleries. So don’t let that spray can go to waste, keep the art going and who knows you could be the next Basquait!
Now for all you lovely people who are bored and just need a creative edge, look no further than your own phone, put that camera to use! Photography is an amazing type of art, and all you have to do is capture a great moment; be at the right place at the right time. That’s been proven to work for Richard Prince, a famed photographer who’s known especially for his cowboy series. In the series Prince depicts everyday cowboy life through amazing photos. What may seem like nothing extraordinary in day to day life, are actually the best to capture and convey in a photograph. So the next time you’re bored just grab your camera and stick it in your pocket, or whip out that phone and take a snapshot, you never know what you’re missing out on until you see it through a lens!

Hush in Angel Orensanz Foundation

We have talked about street art and street artists: duos who color railings, ones who make three-dimensional images, some who like playing with emotions. This time we are talking about one that has been featured at The Angel Orensanz Foundation (where the Burning Bronzes exhibition will open on September 12).

The year was 2010 when the British street artist Hush was brought by the renowned San Francisco Gallery White Walls to share his artwork inside the Angel Orensanz Foundation. The exhibition was titled “Found” and it was his debut into the American world.
The compilation was of 25 works of mixed-media – an exploration of the vitality and transient nature of mark making, tagging and graffiti was held in The Angel Orensanz Foundation for only three days, and it was a big hit.
Hush majored in graphic design at Newcastle School of Art and Design. He soon decided, though, that his passion was for street art and his practice took him to Asia, Europe and the USA. As he traveled he began to become known as a preeminent contemporary artist. These travels also influenced his work, as he focus on portraying female forms with cross-cultural influences and various genres of contemporary art, like iconic and pop art renditions, usually of geishas and anime/mangas.
The British artist also finds beauty in the accidental layering that happens with street art and he strives to capture the power of decayed tagging, so to magnify its value. His work involves screen painting, spray-painting, as well as layering and collaging of graphic novels and old comics.

Duos and 3Ds (Street Art)

We already shared with you that we love running into art, and we are guessing you do too. So, here are more suggestions from the Angel Orensanz Foundation blog for you to enjoy your walks a little more.

If you happen to be in Mannheim, Germany, you will be lucky enough to see the street art of the duo Zebrating that is based in the city. Their name comes from the artistic style loosely translated as “making the zebra”, which involves using a striping technique (isn’t that what a Zebra reminds you of?) . Usually the style doesn’t incorporate colors, but the duo, who is now exploring other cities in Germany, decided to add this nice touch.

Another street artist that likes to use color in his street art, is Julian Beever. The English artist is internationally known for the pavement drawings and the 3D illusions he creates. He has been drawing with chalk on the streets since the mid-90s and using a technique called anamorphosis to create his three dimensional fantasies. The thing is, though, you need to find the right angle, or else his creations make not sense to our eyes! His drawings don’t last long, but they are all over the place, like Times Square, Amsterdam, London, Mexico City, Istanbul and much more.

“I got started when I was in a pedestrian street in Brussels where an old garden had been removed. This left an unusual rectangle of paving slabs, which gave me the idea to convert this into a drawn swimming pool in the middle of the high street! It worked so well I tried other variations such as a well with people falling in. I soon realized that if you could make things appear to go into the pavement you could equally make them appear to stand out of it.”  Julian Beever.

On the other side of the equator, the Brazilian duo Os Gemeos reside in São Paulo, but this time they have decided to take a trip to Boston. In their first major U.S. solo show, the identical twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who often combine elements of fantasy and play with political and social themes, show their work inside the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as in Dewey Square, in Boston’s financial district.

“We don’t really want to explain the meaning of this,” he said. “We let people imagine things.” – Gustavo Pandolfo

Now their signature yellow-skinned cartoon characters have placed them among the top-10 most celebrated street artists in the world.

sources: thephoenix , moilusions, twisted, artinfo

Streets of Affection (street art part 3)

Don’t we all love acts of affection? To make your Thursday better and more lovable (even though Thursdays are already good, since the week is ending), here are some street artists that love to convey emotions and make you smile.

The first one is Paul Price. His project Signs of Affection is bound to make you feel better about yourself. The young Irish graphic designer started the project in Leeds, England in 2010 and has been developing it ever since. He says he started the project to “make the walls talk.” It seems that when they talk, they say really nice things!

Aline Pasquini works as an illustrator, set designer, and painter, but in her free time she takes to the streets to display acts of love, hope and affection. The Rome-based artist affirms that she creates ”art about people and their relationships. I’m interested in representing human feelings and exploring different points of view.”

Finally, Adam Łokuciejewski and Szymon Czarnowski transformed two mundane boxes into a great sign of affection, with some lines of black spray paint they made the boxes hug each other. The Polish artists have transformed the context of the box-shaped objects in order to change the emotion of their surrounding landscape.

Art in the streets (part 2)

Don’t you love to see art when strolling down the streets? We know we do. And street art can change landscapes, cities and perceptions. One example we told about you was when Chicago became a big monopoly game. This time, we are taking a trip to Europe and Middle East.

In Hamburg, Germany an unknown artist decided to “adbust” the H&M bikini campaign featuring the Brazilian model Isabele Fontana. How? with a simple trick: placing the Photoshop toolbox in them. The toolbox makes us wonder, is this really how she looks like? Enlightening us with a sense of reality, that doesn’t exist in beauty magazines and ads.

Another artist that likes to play is Florian Rivière , and his playground is the city. Based on Strasbourg, France, he takes simple elements to create new views. A self-proclaimed “urban hacktivist”, he creates spontaneous games, traps, maps and other things that create a whole new look into public space and help you have fun while strolling in the city.

Finally, the Dihzaheyners are also devoted to make the city look more playful and colorful. The team of artists/designers has them aim to make Beirut brighter with color. One of their projects are the stairs on Mar Mikhael St, they painted the 73 steps in seven hours and put a little more color into the city.

Sources: vansick , florianriviere and streetutopia


Art Underground in New York City

Have you ever been in a NYC Subway Station that was decorated with bold brass fixtures, tall tile arches, elegant wrought iron chandeliers and glistening colored glass skylights? No? Well, we haven’t either, but one such subway station remarkably does exist in our mysterious City.

They call it the “Hidden City Hall 6-train Station.” It was built in 1904 but closed
41 years later to accommodate a larger amount of commuters. During the time of
its opening only around 600 people would use it a day. Since it closed in 1945 it
has been boarded up and hidden from public view.

Prior to 9/11 New York City began to restore the secret City Hall station to become part of the Transit Museum but the plans were never followed through due to terrorist threats and security concerns. When the City Hall 6-train made the final turnabout for its return trip uptown, the
loop created a gap between it and platform that was eventually deemed by the City
unsafe for passengers.

Of course, safety concerns, illegal trespassing and boarded up passage ways mean
nothing to some of our mischievous, rebel Graffiti Artists born and raised here in
NYC. The Underbelly Project, a group of street artists have taken over the concrete
areas in this old abandoned station along with many others. They have turned it into
their own secret underground exhibit holding over a hundred murals accumulated
over time.

“Collectors can’t buy the art. The public can’t see it. And the only people with a chance of stumbling across it are the urban explorers who prowl the city’s hidden infrastructure or employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.”

Credit: PAC (infamous NYC graffitists and discoverer of the arts ample space.)

Unfortunately catching a glimpse of the Underbelly Project’s Secret City Hall exhibit
is very risky. Whether it’s running into rats or authority, our suggestion is to view
this sight an alternative way. Although it is not open to the general public for tours,
MTA used to force passengers off of the downtown 6 trains at the Brooklyn Bridge
Last stop. Today, MTA is allowing passengers to stay on it as the train makes its
turnaround through City Hall Station heading back uptown. A lot of people don’t
know this, but now you do! So grab a seat and take yourself on a loop through
history and today! If you dont have the opportunity, you can also watch the video Undercity, where an historian shows the station, check it out:
[vimeo w=500&h=281]

UNDERCITY from Andrew Wonder on Vimeo.

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