Patrick Smith Columns - Body art

Steffie Nelson, Time Out New York, October 14, 2002

If you live, work or shop in Soho or Tribeca, you may have noticed colorful cartoony human figures climbing the poles of parking signs.


Or if you're anything like the guy who watched Pat Smith bolt ine of these two-dimensional, eight-foot-by-eight-inch plywood totems to the polo on Prince Street in less than 60 seconds, you might have even waited for him to finish so you could lock your bike to it.


Such is the fickle fate of public art- especially unauthorized guerilla art put up on the sly- and that's just fine with Smith, 30, a fromer animation director at MTV.  "Awesome!" grinned this avid skateboarder, as he jumped back into a Land Rover bungeed with a dozen of the artworks and set off in search of a "nice" pole he'd been "casin" for a while.


Three years from conception to completion, the Columns installation project is Smith's ode to urban life.  The cartoonish vertical plaques depict nondescript people huddled one on top of the other- a recurring image in Smith's work.  He admits to near-obsession with the idea of human forms conjoining and mutating into larger structures, a theme also reflected in his acclaimed animated short "Drink."  "I almost consider this an animation project," he said, noting the "beautiful contrast of line art against the city."


"You should put a price tag next to that," offered a woman sitting outside the Bari Café on Spring Street at 1am last Monday.  "I'm gonna put my e-mail on it and take credit," she joked.  Smith may never get compensated for the 20 pieces now adroning downtown, but public art gets its own raves.  He pointed to a column outside the Tribecca Fim Center: "Christy Turlington's dof peed on that one."

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