Mark Reigelman’s Playful & Thought-Provoking Urban Art

As colorful as life in the city can be, things aren’t always rosy – especially in gloomy, grimy neighborhoods where everything seems to be hard, cold and monochromatic. But if artist Mark Reigelman had his way, we’d all go about our days a bit more cheerfully thanks to unexpected urban art installations that perch glass birds on telephone poles, turn fire hydrants into flower vases and transform bus stops into cozy homes.

After all, there’s something joyous about a bunch of flowers, however humble in their paper wrappings – which is why Reigelman chose to model his ‘wrap planters’ after exactly that shape. 18 of these curving concrete planters line the streets in Cleveland, making up one of his rare permanent installations. Reigelman prefers the spontaneity and freedom of temporary installations, but some are more fleeting than others, like the guerrilla redecorated bus shelter that was torn down by city workers the very next day.

“Some people call it being creative, other call it being crazy,” Reigelman told Inside Out. “I have always been creative(crazy) although I did not realize I could be creative(crazy) for a living until my junior year in high school. Once my art teacher told me, ‘Mark, you can do this as a career’, my whole life changed. I think my exact response was, ‘Ms. B, are you f#*@ing serious?!’”

In addition to urban installations, Reigelman creates gallery pieces that are equal parts product design and commentary – albeit tongue-in-cheek. His ‘Shadows’ series of stainless steel wall-mounted bookshelves in the shape that the books’ shadow would create is subtitled “Assigning Function to Shadows.” To “Happiness is a Warm Gun (Pillow)”, Reigelman adds “Bringing Comfort and Safety Into The Home.”

“Wit and humor are absolutely essential. Honestly, there is not a more important element in my work. Anyone can draw a chair and build the goddamn thing. It’s the intimate life and personality in my work that makes it unique. If you ever hear me in my studio laughing maniacally, chances are I am working on something particularly awesome.”