212 Arts, NYC
A city's street art offers free entertainment for those who wander about a lot by foot. Having spent a fair amount of time walking around New York City, I couldn't help but start to notice all the work of the street and graffiti artists -- who they are, what their styles are, and even how they evolve over time. It's like cable TV for the perpetually restless. "Hey, Gazoo's gone to the moon again!" "There goes some fresh Phetus..." Street art enlivens dull spaces, uniting communities in the process.
For Manhattanites, Phoebe might seem to be everywhere, like a relentless but affable socialite. Her stuck-on visage -- round, largely inscrutable, and seemingly hastily applied -- is oft accompanied with a few words of inspiration, or exasperation. She is pasted to building walls, or lampposts, and wherever stickers and slaps from the underground are publicly planted. From this style alone, locals know her, even if though don't consciously recognize her.
Perhaps more than standard collage environs, Phoebe inhabits a personal world of vision boards. But her aspirations -- and fears -- are pressed into the public, for all to see, and mull. Phoebe seems to be enjoying the glamorous big city life, though not one without heartache, and too much late-night partying. She is hip but ageless. Bitter but romantic. Classy but punk. Cosmopolitan yet guileless. Cool yet awkward. Phoebe is all these things.
I distinctly remember seeing a Phoebe outside a vestibule one frosty morning, as I was drearily slogging down the side street, sidestepping the ice and slush on my way towards some business meeting in SoHo.
“Oh, Hey, it’s you,” I thought, like I was greeting an actual acquaintance. I felt momentarily thankful for all she provided -- a small art-break on a busy morning, a bit of chaos on a corporate backdrop, and some guilted-inspiration ("Someone is going out late at night to paste all these! What am I doing for MY art?") .
And there, for me, is the genius of PhoebeNewYork. Anybody can wax aspirational within the safe confines of a greeting card, or with a framed inspirational poster. It's harder to testify on the streets, for those hurrying by with mud on their boots, running late for an important meeting. New York is a hard city. It will knock you down and pick you back up on the same day. Phoebe not only survives, but forges a style from the struggle.