In the middle of the afternoon on Friday, September 27, Mark Robertson grabbed a folding chair, a bike wheel, and some art supplies, and set up camp on the corner of 7th Avenue and 9th Street. With his headphones in and a vague artistic vision to guide him, he got to work — calmly twisting pipe cleaners around the spokes of the wheel, creating public street art while hundreds of locals passed him by.
You may remember the installation as it began about a year ago, a junction of public art and grand romantic gesture inspired by a chance meeting of a friend of a friend.
“I ended up talking to her and thinking she was really cool, and that I’d like to ask her out,” Mark says, “but I couldn’t find any way to run into her at some mutual friend’s event or something like that. So I decided that I would leave a poster on the bike wheel with her name in big letters asking her out and explaining why I was using that peculiar means, hoping that the combination of my being willing to embarrass myself in front of the whole neighborhood with a very silly very public ask out would be both flattering and endearing.”
But that didn’t quite work out.
“While she was quite flattered, I’m told, she never actually took me up on the offer.”
And so the lone wheel remained, chained to a bus stop post and surprisingly easy to miss. This iteration is more likely to catch the eye. With the addition of a second bike wheel, colorful pipe cleaners (“I completely cleaned him out of his supply,” Mark says, pointing to 7th Avenue Copy & Office Supplies across the street), and a little bit of whimsy (“a spirit I hold in extremely high regard”), the project stands out — bigger, brighter, a bit more lighthearted, and driven largely by puns.
Mark, who lives in the neighborhood and works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at City College, intends the project as an evolution, or, in his words, “a running forum for quasi art mixed with puns.” Right now it’s a nod to the sun, the season, and the medium (“In Dion’s Hummer?”) with the question mark thrown in almost as an appeal to the pedestrians who will pass it every day — does this work as public art?
(And, no, he hasn’t yet been to Punderdome, though his friends “keep telling [him]” he should check it out.)
Stop by to see the piece while it lasts, at the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and 9th Street. You might even catch Mark tinkering around with it.