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Flickr user NK Eide
Flickr user NK Eide

The Story Behind the Peculiar Poem in NYC's Port Authority Tunnel

Flickr user NK Eide
Flickr user NK Eide

Actually, the poem is posted in the corridor between the Port Authority subway station and the Times Square subway station. Each line of the poem occupies its own six-inch tall panel affixed to the support beams in the ceiling of the underground, tiled tunnel. As swarms of city-dwellers make their morning and evening trek between the high-traffic subway stations, they need only to glance up to see a sympathetic message.

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

A final panel shows a black and white photo of an empty, rumpled bed.

The poem, by Norman B. Colp, is aptly titled "The Commuter's Lament" or, perhaps more cryptically, "A Close Shave." The alternate title is a reference to the Burma-Shave ads of the mid-20th century, which employed a similar style of a series of one-line signs drivers would read as they sped past. Colp told the New York Times he was inspired by the highways out west that he and a girlfriend used to drive along in the '60s where the Burma-Shave billboards were prevalent.

Colp, a native New Yorker who passed away in 2007, was known as an artist and photographer for his witty installations. He was commissioned to create a piece in 1991 as part of the MTA's Arts for Transit, a program started in 1986 which dedicated 0.5 to 1 percent of a station’s rehabilitation budget to bring museum-worthy artwork into the otherwise-utilitarian public transportation system. Colp was paid $5000 for the sardonic piece.

The poem was originally intended as a one-year display, but the MTA chose to leave it up ever since, allowing it to join the ranks of permanent art installations throughout the subway system. The final panel with the slept-in bed went missing after a 2005 station renovation but was reinstalled two years later.

In 2011, two optimistic young college students in the area set out to change the tone of the poem. Feeling that Colp's original work was too pessimistic, the pair of 20-year-olds took it upon themselves to brighten some of the lines—“Overslept” became “Overexcited,” “So Tired” became “Energized.”

The artist's widow, Marsha Stern-Colp, did not appreciate the amendments, saying at the time, “Why be optimistic in these times? Be realistic—life sucks. You get through it the best you can.”

Whether or not that's true, she conceded that what Colp had originally intended to project was not quite as bleak. “His empathy for the overtired, overworked populace trudging to get to work was what it was all about."

Original photo by Flickr user NK Eide.

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Martin Wittfooth
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Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
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iStock
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Art
This Wall Chart Shows Every Oil Painting Vincent Van Gogh Ever Created
iStock
iStock

Vincent van Gogh, among other things, was a prolific painter. He created 85 oil paintings of women, 70 of flowers, 42 of wheat fields, and 38 of his own image. The Post-Impressionist master’s nearly 900 oil paintings can now be seen all in one place, thanks to a new wall chart from Curious Charts.

A chart of Van Gogh's paintings
Curious Charts

In this “Visual Taxonomy of Van Gogh,” the painter’s oeuvre is organized into a few categories, like still lifes and landscapes, and further broken down into subcategories such as water and bridges, wheat, and trees. Timothy Sanders, who runs Curious Charts with his wife, Aurélia, said he started out by organizing Van Gogh’s works into categories in an Excel spreadsheet.

“When we had the idea of trying to fit all of Van Gogh’s paintings, which is almost 900 in total, onto a single poster-sized chart, it was really exciting,” he says in the video below. “But as we quickly discovered, there were a lot of challenges.”

Size and spacing were the biggest issues, and the 24-inch-by-36-inch poster took three months to create. There are notations underneath each image specifying the title of the work and the year it was painted.

The Sanders duo is raising funds for the project via Kickstarter, and so far they've raised nearly $1500 of their $2000 goal. The fundraising campaign ends June 14.

Scroll down to see more photos of the chart, plus a video showing how it was made.

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts

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