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NYC Sewer Drawing

Meet the Artist
- Mr. Nilsen

One July day last year Mark Nilsen was strolling through New York City and stumbled over a penny on the street. Low on cash and in need of a little luck he pocketed it. Further down the block he found two more pennies, later a nickel and a quarter. "Hmmm," he thought "I wonder how much more I can find on the street?"

Large round sewer covers - unpocketable 100 pound coins - scattered all over the City came to Nilsen's attention. That summer night he set out to develop a technique to capture the manholes on canvas. In front of his house on West 46th Street, he put a piece of raw canvas right on top of a 'NYC Sewer', dipped a roller into color and created his first streetscape painting.

That first "rubbing with paint" of a manhole cover and the concrete surrounding it, opened Nilsen's eyes to the often overlooked beauty of the street relief. It was the start of a passion for the stone, steel and dirt that form the surface we walk on. Nilsen now sees the street as "a huge work in progress - a fascinating mix of old cobbles and new concrete, grates and cast-iron lids patched together to hide the city's secret underground blood vessels of sewage and supply systems."


Meet the Artist - Mr. Nilsen
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Look at Mark Nilsen's paintings»
More photos of sewer covers»

Mark Nilsen on the street

The artist Mark Nilsen

The 'NYC Sewer' Cover in front of Mark Nilsen's House

The 'NYC Sewer' cover
in front of Mark Nilsen's house

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