For better or worse, in an urban environment, we are surrounded by graffiti, or ‘street art’ as it is known by aficionados. Many cities are known for it, but it’s not something we usually associate with Princeton is not one of them! After watching ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop‘, however, the work of street artists, which in many cases went unobserved before, stands out. Take this ‘Stop’ sign at the intersection of Hulfish Street and Witherspoon Street in downtown Princeton. ‘Sticker bombing‘ is a sub-genre of street art (also known as vandalism and almost certainly unlawful). But are any of these stickers intended as art? Let’s take a closer look at some of the individual stickers:
This sticker shows Conor Maynard – an electronic music producer from Brighton, England. The sticker was probably produced as publicity for an album launch.
This sticker shows ‘Elegies & Laments‘ – the name of an album of spoken word compositions set to jazz music released in 2013 by Philadelphia-based poet, Ernest Hilbert (you can stream it by clicking the link). Again, it was probably produced for publicity purposes. This is some pretty esoteric stuff, but it’s worth observing that Princeton is home to the Princeton Record Exchange, which hosts events and supports the local music scene. It’s possible that Ernest Hilbert or one of his people placed the sticker while visiting what ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine called ‘one of the best record stores in the USA‘.
‘Skate Jawn‘ is a magazine for the skateboarding community based out of Philadelphia, PA. Until 2013, a skate shop (NJ Skateshop) existed a few yards away from this intersection. In a sign o’ the times for the town of Princeton, it closed, and was replaced by a store selling upmarket flower arrangements.
Yet another promo sticker- and another one for the skateboarding community. ‘Eastern Manner Mfg Co‘ produces hand-crafted, hand-pressed skateboards.
This sticker is almost certainly intended as street art. According to the blog ‘Stickers of NYC’, where sticker art connoisseurs discuss different pieces, ‘kinky was here’ stickers similar to this one have previously been spotted in Soho. This suggests a street artist, who presumably calls him/herself ‘kinky’, is roving the country applying stickers in different locations- including Princeton. According to one online pundit, the ‘artist’ is based on the West Coast.
‘Mitti’ is a graphic artist based somewhere in New Jersey. He/she doesn’t say where, but numerous examples of graffiti with the Mitti tag were reported around Rowan University in 2011. ‘Mitti’ launched a Facebook page in 2012, where he/she encouraged followers to place ‘Mitti’ stickers in unusual locations and post photos of the stickers to the page. Examples of different Mitti stickers have been posted from Spotswood, NJ and East Brunswick.
‘Surf Taco Coastal Cuisine‘ is a restaurant chain operating on the Jersey Shore, with locations in places like Belmar and Point Pleasant. They have a gift shop, where they sell branded clothing and artwork. This sticker almost certainly originated from one of their branches.
This is a name badge, of the type handed out at innumerable meetings, so that participants can identify each other. It looks similar to these badges, sold by Staples at the price of $5.79 per 100. It’s certainly not art, unless you consider it some kind of ersatz found object.
There are quite a few more stickers, that we couldn’t identify. So what’s it got to do with walkability? Graffiti and street art adds detail to a walk, and whether we like it or not, diversions like these make exploring a town on foot more interesting. Observing and connecting with our environment is a goal of ‘Jane Jacobs Walks‘, named after the famed urbanist, who lived in New York, was a major advocate of living urban communities.
Note: Do not place stickers in unauthorized locations! It is unlawful and may interfere with traffic control signs!
What do you think of these stickers? Art or trash? Have you seen graffiti or street art at any other locations in Princeton? Let us know in the comments below!