Multimedia

Art in the Park: The public and impermanent work of Tom Manco

Tom Manco’s March sculpture’s eye, made of entirely recycled materials. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Have you seen Tom Manco’s public and impermanent cardboard creations? The East Village artist’s installations have made an impact since they began appearing on a monthly basis in Tompkins Square Park.

“To me it’s like a sandcastle, once I make it then the Parks Department can take it away,” said Manco. A mural painter, his exploration with cardboard blossomed from an influx of packages while staying at home during the pandemic. In December Manco released his first public installation “Mensch on a Bench,” a 12-foot tall figure made from holiday boxes. For April he created “Fool/Foil,” which encouraged observers to write the most foolish thing they have done on a post-it. With few people recognizing him as the artist, Manco observes the public’s unfiltered reaction to his art while sitting among them.

For those who haven’t yet seen these impermanent installations, Manco’s March sculpture has found a more permanent home at S’MAC, an East Village restaurant. If you’re hoping to see his next public installation, a new project is set to drop over Mother’s Day weekend. Make sure you head over to the park sooner rather than later because as Manco said, “on Monday they usually toss it.”

Supplies and instructions on how the public can engage with “Fool/Foil,” an interactive sculpture by Tom Manco. Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York. April, 6 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Manco Studios latest cardboard public art display “Fool/Foil” is observed by park goers. Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York. April, 6 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Post-it notes left by park goers that answer the prompt “What is the most foolish thing you have ever done?” Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York. April, 6 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Tom Manco adjusting his almost 2 month old cardboard creations’ eye. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Tom Manco’s March sculpture from the sidewalk outside of S’MAC. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Tom Manco’s March installation sits between the ordering and pick up counters at S’MAC. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

His installation turns pedestrians’ heads as Tom Manco observes the public’s unfiltered reactions from the street. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley

Artist Tom Manco sits outside of S’MAC where they have set up outdoor dining. Manhattan, New York. April, 18 2021. Photo by Julia Eckley