Art Unlocked: Greenwich Village’s Amazing Folk Art Building

If you live in or near Greenwich Village in New York, you have no doubt passed by Greenwich Safe & Lock. The shop has been in business in the very same building since 1968, and it has become a Village institution. The shop’s owner, Phil Mortillaro, has wanted to do something spectacular with the building for quite some time now, but nothing seemed fitting until October 2010, when Mortillaro completely transformed his shop’s facade into an incredible one-of-a-kind work of art.

The picture above shows the shop as it has been since Greenwich Safe & Lock opened in the late 1960s. It looked just like every other building in the area, and aside from a couple of new signs it hadn’t changed much in its whole 40-year history.

This picture shows Greenwich Locksmiths today. Glancing at the shop from the street does not do it justice – you have to get closer to see the true artistry, care and time that have gone into transforming this once-bland building into one fascinating piece of folk art.

Phil Mortillaro has covered the building’s entire facade with thousands upon thousands of keys of every shape and color. They clump together in piles, fan out in arches, wriggle around in serpentine lines and twist here and there in surprising shapes.

The building’s new look was designed and installed entirely by Mortillaro. There are not only keys covering the whole front of the building; they spill into the inside of the door and take up residence in the shop’s tiny interior as well.

(all images via: Scouting NY)

In front of the shop, another of Mortillaro’s key creations sits: a chair with a seat and backrest made entirely of keys. The overall visual effect of the shop is absolutely stunning – and knowing that it was all executed by one man with a passion for his life’s work makes it even more impressive.