By Tequila Minsky
Owner Roy Ibrahim of Soho’s Les Bistro Amis looks above his outdoor seating at the street sign across Spring St. mystified, “I don’t know when it happened.”
He refers to the amusedly clever adaptation of the Thompson Street sign, which hovers over Ben’s Pizza, now reading: “Trump gone St.” It just appeared on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, announcing the obvious.
Thompson Street is eight blocks long and that corner is the only one undergoing an imaginative kind of name change with only a couple letters transformed. Above the street name, the former One Way sign reads: “gone away.” Mid-Inauguration Day local TV crews took note.
The simple sign is an example of the creativity of street artist and architectural photographer Adrian Wilson whose finger is on the pulse of the zeitgeist. With his spot-on graphic sense, the commonplace becomes a sign of the times. His goal is to make people smile. “It’s about the humor, with a wink in your eye,” he says.
Wilson has worked his ingenuity in the subways, and there is no defacement — he uses adhesive stick-ons.
On inauguration day along the same theme, he transformed one wall in the Astoria M and J subway station from 46th St. to “46th Joe.” (Biden being the 46th president of the U.S. Following the November presidential election, Biden’s name also appeared at the station.)
After his trip to that Queens station, Wilson made his way to Soho—the sign at the Spring St. corner transformed right around noon, the time the presidential oath was taken.
In lower Manhattan, denizens may have seen Wilson’s tribute to Aretha Franklin’s 2018 passing with “RESPECT” stickers in the #1 Franklin St. subway station. MTA even took to that, producing more stick-ons for the platform walls.
The artist pays tribute to many worthy public figures that have died and is quoted as saying, “I’m trying to give people a more quirky way of remembering that is not so solemn!”
One sign over the Bowery read: David Bowery. The Prince Street station read: “Prince RIP.” For his RIP to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 50th St. station for a time read: “RU th St.” A tribute to Kobe Bryant went up on the #7 train platform at the Bryant Park stop; it read “Kobe Bryant Park.”
“My dad and two older brothers are graphic designers,” he says, of not wanting (completely) to follow the family DNA. “And, I’m British and we like word puns.”
It adds up to flair for wordplay, graphics, skilled Photoshop, and with occasional animation, he puts his personal spin on a talent that runs in the family.
“Most of my street work is in the planning,” he makes clear. This explains his social media handle @plannedalism, a take-off on the word vandalism.
More of his work where art cleverly meets politics can be found on Twitter or Instagram.
In the ‘hood, Broome Street Bar honored the presidential transition another way by hanging festively twisted crepe paper and inflatable balloons reading 2021 along with a photo of Biden in their West Broadway window.