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Street Signs Become Art in New TriBeCa Exhibit

Peter Stanick, shown with one of his canvases at One Art Space in TriBeCa.
Peter Stanick, shown with one of his canvases at One Art Space in TriBeCa.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

TRIBECA — Peter Stanick wants to show New Yorkers the beauty in things they're often too busy and distracted to see.

Stanick, 59, a Florida-based artist who has long been fascinated by the constantly changing streetscape of New York City, has created a tribute to the Big Apple in a series of paintings that went on display in TriBeCa this week.

Each of the canvases in "Broadway" at One Art Space features a different intersection, with the ubiquitous green street signs in the foreground, backed by images from the street's past and present.

Stanick's canvas for East Seventh Street and First Avenue, for example, features images he associates with Red Bar, the long-shuttered hangout for artists including Keith Haring.

"You live in New York and you see it every day, but you don't notice it," Stanick said of the perpetually shifting collage of signs and advertisements along the city's streets.

While some of his references are instantly recognizable — an American flag for Wall Street and New Street, or the curving Guggenheim for Fifth Avenue and East 88th Street — others, like the allusion to the Red Bar, are much more subtle.

"I'm hoping that most people don't understand it [right away]," Stanick said. "They need to figure it out a little. A few people it would click with."

Stanick, who grew up in Pittsburgh, first got the idea of capturing New York street scenes in the 1980s when he was visiting a friend in the East Village and was amazed by the sensory overload of information that inundates people walking along the city's streets.

But Stanick struggled to capture that density of images in art, and it wasn't until about a year ago that he began creating the current series, which now includes 30 canvases.

Stanick composes each scene on a computer using historical and modern photos of the intersection and then plots the scenes onto a canvas in ink, capturing the crisp lines of the city's architecture. Each canvas takes anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks to create.

Stanick hopes to continue the series, mapping the city's past.

"These are a documentation of things that don't exist anymore," he said.

"Broadway" is on view at One Art Space, 23 Warren St., through June 28.