John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This is quite an elaborate way to avoid parking tickets.
NOTE: The images associated with this post, showing street-art projects from 2004 to 2008, were removed at the artist's request. For more information about these artworks, please visit the website of Cayetano Ferrer.
Los Angeles artist Cayetano Ferrer likes to hide things in plain sight. Street signs, for example: Using photos depicting hyper-realistic city scenes, he can transform a "No Parking" notice into an patch of thin air – quite a handy talent if somebody wants to avoid parking tickets.
Ferrer, who showed most recently at the 2012 L.A. Biennial, once turned Chicago's Division Street into a signless Eden with his visual trickery. Stern messages about tow-away zones vanished, replaced with uninterrupted views of winter treetops, a metal fence, vinyl siding and a security camera. In a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, he allowed a short phrase on the municipal signs to remain: "CITY OF CHICAGO," which became the title of his illusory intervention.
"I am interested in site specificity because I feel like it's easy to get lost in repetition," Ferrer told UR Chicago at the time. "Those 'No Parking' signs are everywhere, and that kind of attracted me to using them as a way to frame these places in the city."
The artist's fool-ya photowork fits right in with an urban-art scene that has come to embrace dozens of kinds of "graffiti," from yarn-tagging to frosting-bombing to infrared imagery. Ferrer's become proficient enough with it that he's found ways to camouflage bigger, bulkier objects, too. In his series "Western Imports," he's covered cardboard boxes in lifelike photos and placed them around the city, where they sit unnoticed like empty glass cubes – at least until somebody stumbled over one. Damn it, Ferrer, keep your art under control!