Art Everywhere: 12 Projects Transform Public Spaces into Guerrilla Galleries

Street artists turn entire cities into open-air galleries, but
there are countless ways to carry out urban art interventions,
and they’re at their most fun when they subvert existing
structures. Virtually anything can be transformed into a
surface or medium for art: billboards, phone booths,
construction walls, street signs and even furniture discarded
on the curb. Sometimes the motivation is political – calling
attention to how much public space is dedicated to advertising,
for example – but sometimes it’s just fun, like painting clown
faces on busted couches.

Art in Ad Places Takes on Phone Booths

Pay phones themselves may have largely disappeared long ago,
but the shelters that held them can often still be found on the
sidewalks of large cities like New York. ‘Art in Ad Places,’ a
campaign replacing outdoor advertising with artwork, partners
with artists to install their work in these shelters. 55 new
pieces went up in 2017. They say they believe outdoor
advertising is visual pollution, psychologically damaging and
pushed on viewers without their consent – but the places it’s
found is ripe for subversion for other messages. “By replacing
advertisements with artwork, Art in Ad Places provides a public
service and an alternative vision of our public environment,”
they explain.

Vermibus Remixes Ads with Acid

An artist known as
reduces the impact of advertisements by sweeping
through cities and modifying ads with acid to rob them of
context and turn them into strange painterly works of art. It’s
a literal smear campaign, and it’s kind of genius. All he has
to do is don a safety vest, remove the ads, take them home to
transform them and then put them back up.

“By opening those spaces, I make them vulnerable and I create a
conversation not only with the brands or the companies that put
advertising in the public space but also with the citizen,
breaking the unidirectional message,” the artist says in an
interview with Open Walls Gallery.
“Awareness is a very
important and personal part of every artwork… the adverts might
be legitimate if the viewer decides consciously to see them.
But in order to have a conscious decision about that, we need
to be aware of their dangers and for that we should be informed
in the first place. [Advertising] is addictive, affects
mentally and chemically our body, our decisions, our
environment… it has a huge risk on all the levels that we are

Curbside Furniture Art by Lonesome Town

The unwanted furniture we kick out to the curb gets a chance to
vent, however temporarily, in the hands of artist Lonesome
Town. Traveling through Los Angeles, the artist paints sad
clown faces on couches, chairs, computer monitors and other
rejects. For a few brief days, each piece gets its time in the
spotlight, becoming a work of art before it’s hauled off to the
dump to die. Follow Lonesometown9 on
for lots more.

Spontaneous Temporary Interventions by Brad Downey

American-born, Berlin-based artist Brad Downey is a master of
, turning everyday objects and infrastructure in
cities into whimsical, temporary works of art. A bike left
chained beside a river might become a fountain, for example;
he’ll put a public bench on skates, cut out a chunk of the
pavement and stand it on end, tear down street signs and
reassemble them into spiky sculptures. Sometimes his larger
sculptural works are commissioned, but more often, he’s working
intuitively, taking opportunities as he sees them. Each piece
is a fun reinterpretation of its materials, sometimes rendering
the objects useless and sometimes making them more effective.

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