LOWER EAST SIDE — After three arrests, street artist Patrick "Moustache Man" Waldo has decided his work should head indoors — and obey the law.
Waldo, 28, will exhibit his artworks — advertising posters with his tagline "moustache" scrawled across a model's upper lip — at the Krause Gallery on Orchard Street for four days starting Feb. 21. This will be Waldo's first solo exhibition after being arrested in June 2011 for criminal mischief and making graffiti, after he defaced thousands of the city's subway and bus stop posters.
"What the moustache project is about is knocking the subjects down, back to reality," said Waldo, who did his graffiti for about 12 months before his arrest. "It is super sexy serious advertisements I am targeting where it seems like the subjects take themselves so serious where there is no humor or life or energy."
Instead of canvassing subways and bus stops for unsuspecting posters, Waldo has taken to purchasing old subway advertisements online and using tear-outs from magazines to scribble his tagline.
"I am also trying to expand the series and starting to target other subjects that I think are ripe for the picking, like these art world deities," he said, mentioning Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
Even fellow street artists such as Shepard Fairey and Mr. Brainwash are not spared from an additional moustache.
"They are high enough up on the ladder that I can knock them down a few pegs," Waldo said of the artists who become subjects at his upcoming exhibitions.
The Virginia native who moved to New York in 2006 to pursue a standup comedy dream came up with the idea for the project in the spring of 2010. His art quickly became his obsession.
"There would be some nights I would do 100 in a night and I would go to 10 subway stations," said Waldo. "I would have my markers on me at all times and if I walked passed one I would 'moustache' it."
People began to copy him and strangers would upload their photos of the moustache art to the photo-sharing website Flickr.
"It was all I could think about for that whole period of time," Waldo said. "It is the hardest I have every worked at anything in my life."
The art mania ended when plainclothes police officers arrested him outside where he worked as a double-decker bus tour guide. He had to serve 30 days community service for tags in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Now, Waldo ships some of his art to fans in Europe, runs private city tours and also has a comedy show about his art running at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea until March.
Instead of a dirty subway wall, Waldo's work comes affixed to a wooden frame. Smaller works of moustache-tagged magazine advertisements start at $50. The bigger pieces can reach almost $1,500.
"The thing about street art is it is accessible, so I am trying to keep prices somewhat accessible," Waldo said.