Last night in Times Square, one might have noticed a different kind of sign amidst the bright lights of advertising: "Jasmine Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei)," a 23-story work of luminescent grafitti art by Vicki DaSilva. The piece, which pays tribute to the words of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, was launched in a lighting ceremony hosted by Roots drummer, Questlove.
And how did Ms. DaSilva, a substitute teacher from Allentown, Pa, earn such a privileged viewing space in Manhattan real estate? She won an online art contest. Coordinated by ArtistsWanted.org -- a website that connects artists to a global audience -- the contest promised a $10,000 cash prize and a Times Square exhibition to the artwork that received the most votes from its online community. Ms. DaSilva, participating in a pool of over 35,000 competitors, emerged the victor.
But this will not be the last piece of art on view in Times Square. The New York Times reports that the Times Square Advertising Coalition may donate a dozen more digital billboards for the purpose of showcasing art. Nor will it be the last contest thrown by Artists Wanted -- the website is planning to hold four competitions a year in art, fashion, photography, and more.
It's an exciting venture; not only does it draws attention to emerging artists in an online community, but it also expands the physical presence of art in the city. And given the choice between an over-sized Sprint ad and a piece of art, the crowds of Times Square may find more to appreciate in the latter.
For more information on Artists Wanted, go HERE.