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Mayan-Inspired Guerrilla Art Puts a Face on Village Street Signs

By Andrea Swalec | September 6, 2012 8:07am

WEST VILLAGE — Dozens of parking signs in the West Village now have their own mascots — in the form of angels and demons, depending who you ask. 

The small metal sculptures of faces have been bolted onto parking-sign poles across the Village and Hudson Square, turning heads and eliciting various reactions from passersby.

The foot-tall, Mayan-inspired faces with expressions that range from reflective to alarmed appeared in the neighborhood over the past week, locals explained. 

Nina Schwarz, press liaison for the art gallery Gavin Brown's Enterprise, said the sculpture installed on the northwest corner of Leroy and Greenwich streets in front of the business reminded her of a giraffe. 

"It's a different way to do art," she said. 

But not everyone was a fan of the neighborhood newcomers.

Danny Ibrahimaj, the owner of Trattoria Spaghetto on Bleecker and Carmine streets, said he thought the city should take down the sculpture outside his business, as well as others in the area. 

"It looks like a devil, like something you would see in a scary movie," he said. "To me it doesn't make any sense." 

The sculptures are free of any explanation other than the letters "PMAM," which appear on the back of each piece. 

An online search of those letters reveals a website with a map showing where the sculptures have been installed, spanning from Sullivan Street to the Hudson River, between Bank and Canal streets. 

The Village artist who installed the sculptures, who spoke on the condition that his name be omitted for fear of legal repercussions, said the Mayan-inspired steel and bronze works were an attempt to get pedestrians more involved in their environment. 

"People walk by beautiful things all the time without noticing," he explained. "I just wanted to put something beautiful around the neighborhood." 

The NYPD did not immediately respond to an inquiry about what charges the artist could potentially face for altering city property.