Don’t Miss These Two Subway Art Openings!

Nina Boesch


Nina’s amazing collages are made entirely on MTA MetroCards, transformed into NYC’s most iconic images.

Opens Wednesday, May 7th 6pm-8pm
350 Bleecker Lobby Gallery
New York, New York

Joan Iaconetti

Manhattan watercolorist Joan Iaconetti’s first solo exhibit at The New School imagines the mundane, post-graffiti subway as a dark, deliciously sinister world full of vertiginous angles, dripping platforms, swarming riders, all done in layer upon layer of monochromatic watercolor. Her large-scale watercolors made their first appearance here, and were later called “evocative neo-noir” by the Curbed.NY architecture blog.

Opens Tuesday, May 20th 6pm-8pm
The New School
66 West 12 Street between Fifth and Sixth Aves
Bridge Gallery, fourth floor; sign in at security desk

Exhibit runs May 20 – June 2; open 10am – 6pm, Mon. through Sat.

Metrodeck by Norman Ibarra

Check out this awesome project by artist Norman Ibarra. Over two years, Norman created a deck of playing cards out of MTA MetroCards. Each of the face cards and jokers feature New York monuments like Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. Each card was silkscreened in Brooklyn at the Gowanus Print Lab.

The full set (not meant for actual play) will run you $550, which sounds like a lot to spend on deck of cards, but really not bad at all when you think about it as getting 54 miniature artworks.

MetroDeck is available at

VH McKenzie’s Battle Against The MTA Goliath

This is the story of VH McKenzie, who, like many others, saw a city MetroCard as an intriguing art instrument, and then fought for the right to use it.

The East Village artist has been creating watercolor or oil paintings on city subway cards and selling them on Etsy alongside other original works, creating what she calls “a world where the eccentric downtown East Village of NYC gently rubs shoulders with the ragamuffin heart of the Caribbean.”

VH Mckenzie's MetroCard art.

However, her subway card artwork raised the ire of the MTA, who sent McKenzie a letter urging her to stop selling them until she gets a license from the agency to do so:

“While we at the MTA are flattered that you recognize the value of our brand to consumers, please understand the MTA has a well-established product licensing program which markets authorized versions of such products. While we have no record of your firm requesting or being granted such authorization, we are prepared to initiate discussions with you about acquiring a license from us.”

“That ain’t gonna happen,” McKenzie wrote on her Tumblr, referencing the recent Single Fare 2 show as evidence that the MetroCard art scene is alive and well: “A full-scale gallery show is permitted, at top-notch prices of $100 per card, but my handful of offerings on Etsy, and at a lower price, are not?

Mark Heavey, the MTA’s chief of marketing and advertising, explained the issue last week to the Village Voice‘s Runnin’ Scared blog: “Whenever we find someone profiting from use of our trademarks, we must strictly enforce and protect our trademark rights. As a public entity, this is our obligation. And the issue is not the size of the infringer (individual or corporation), but the principle.”

The story seems headed for a happy ending, we’re glad to report: after her story was picked up by news outlets across New York, McKenzie wrote a followup post on Monday stating that she had exchanged emails with Heavey. With some changes to her Etsy shop, he claimed, “you may continue to do what you are doing.” (That is, once she creates some new works of subway card art to sell – she’s currently all sold out.)

“I wish you continued success with your ‘fare card art’ project,” Heavey told McKenzie; “the media does love a good David vs. Goliath story.”

Identity, Belonging and the MTA – The Art of Asma A. Shikoh

Asma Ahmed Shikoh is a Pakistani-American artist currently based in New York City whose work has been exhibited at the Queens Museum of Art, Ceres Gallery, Exit Art, Austrian Cultural Forum, and the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center. A professional artist for over ten years, she has been profiled in The New York Times and on the BBC, and has been recognized for her singular take on identity and geography. Born and raised in Pakistan, her pieces have a hybrid sensibility, blending diverse cultural icons and affects into a synthesis of images that transcends the simplistic dichotomy of East and West.

Mrs. Shikoh’s main New York-based collections “Home” (2005) and “Liberated” (2007) both contain original reinterpretations of MTA maps and Metrocards. In these collections, Mrs. Shikoh rewrites the text of these basic transit tools in Urdu, a Hindi dialect spoken in Pakistan, rendering the subway system and its affects into an almost universal signpost of participation and belonging in modern society. In 2009, her work was published in Tracy Fitzpatrick’s “Art and the Subway”, a comprehensive overview of the history of subway art. We caught up with Mrs. Shikoh to ask her about her life, her art and their intersection with New York public transit. Continue reading “Identity, Belonging and the MTA – The Art of Asma A. Shikoh”

Photos from Single Fare 2

Single Fare opened earlier tonight and drew a huge crowd at the reception. The total number of works displayed clocked in at over 2000 this time around. Many artists that contributed last year did so again this year and of course, there were many newcomers. There were even a few pieces by Subway Art Blog featured artists such as Thomas McKean.

Here is a gallery of some of my favorite works from my first trip to the exhibition. These photos do not even scratch the surface. Go check out the gallery for yourself while you can!

Please note: some of the images might not be appropriate for younger audiences.

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MetroCard Collages by Nina Boesch

How many things could you possibly do with a 2 inch x 3.25 inch piece of plastic that has a single intended purpose? This a question I ask myself over and over while performing research for Subway Art blog. Of course I am talking about about the ubiquitous MetroCard. Just when I think I have seen everything that could be done with them, an artist like Nina Boesch hits one right out of the ballpark of my imagination.

Nina is a Manhattan-based graphic designer and artist. When she is not arranging pixels on the computer screen, she is arranging physical pixels made out of chopped up MetroCards and turning them into the mosaic-like collages you see in this post.

Nina started making these collages 10 years ago, initially as gifts for friends and family, but more recently has created them for gallery exhibitions and art fairs. She also accepts commissions for custom collages on her website. The site even includes an interactive feature to generate a MetroCard collage of yourself. Just upload a photo!

Many more after the jump! Continue reading “MetroCard Collages by Nina Boesch”

Single Fare 2: Please Swipe Again

Single Fare 2 submissions by Alyssa Monks

Subway Art Blog is pleased to announce that there will be a second “Single Fare” MetroCard art exhibition opening this Thursday. Last year, Single Fare started off with a bang, including over 700 mini artworks by artists from around the world. This year should be no different. The founders Jean-Pierre Roy and Michael Kagan suspect the number of works might hit the thousands and are collaborating with Sloan Fine Art this time around which made it possible to add more exhibition days and gallery hours.

The beauty of this show is that it is as democratizing as the subway itself. They will be exhibiting all works submitted, and each will be sold (if the artist wishes to sell) for the same amount of money–just like the MetroCards bearing the art.

Single Fare 2: Please Swipe Again

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 17th, from 5 to 9 pm
Exhibition: Friday, March 18 through Saturday, March 26, 2011
Gallery Hours: Noon to 6pm (Closed Monday & Tuesday)

Sloan Fine Art
128 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

Official Single Fare Website

MetroCard Creations by Thomas McKean

More and more artists are utilizing the MetroCard as a material to create art. The latest to come to my attention is Thomas McKean, who creates sculptures, mosaics and other interesting little trinkets out of the card.

The artist had this to say in a statement about his medium:

Usually we swipe them in a hurry as we pass through the turnstile, hoping we haven’t missed the subway. Or dip them as we enter a bus, hoping there’s still enough money on them to pay for the ride. But we barely notice them; they’re as omnipresent and invisible as pigeons. I stopped to look at them one day and haven’t looked back yet. In their limited palette, I’ve found an expanding world of images, colours, ideas. Mosaics, collages, portraits, abstracts, constructions, dioramas, combination drawing and collages, all these keep pouring forth from this little object, not much bigger than two by three inches.

McKlean has used thousands of MetroCards for his work and he says finding them is part of the experience. “Perhaps because I’m from New York, and this is my world, without setting out to, I’m creating a world from one of its iconic symbols.”

Lots more after the jump! Continue reading “MetroCard Creations by Thomas McKean”

A New York Mona Lisa

This awesome Mona Lisa was made out of MetroCards by artist Juan Carlos Pinto. The Guatemala-born artist takes pride in the use of these non-biodegradable materials his medium. From his site:

The idea of using these non-biodegradable cards is to reinforce recycling and prolonging its use indefinitely while providing the artist with a source free material. It is also a way of reminding us about the danger this material can cause if left to seep into the earth.

The work is being display through the 31st at the DIS Micro Gallery; 147 Front Street in DUMBO Brooklyn. Details can be found here.

Discovered on Second Avenue Sagas!