The signs, it turns out, are the creation of Norm Magnusson. A prolific local artist, Magnusson calls these projects "art of social conscience." He envisions an I-75 Project in which similar markers would be placed in rest areas along the length of the interstate. Examples of his current creations include: "On this site stood Karen DeWitt, who could not afford the prescription drugs that would have saved her life;" and "On this site stood Robert Oknos, who thought that global warming would not affect him in his lifetime." On his website, Magnusson notes that his creations "gently insert themselves into the public realm," and he enjoys the surprise of passersby who stop to read them. Says Magnusson:
"These markers are just the kind of public art I really enjoy: gently assertive and non-confrontational, firmly thought-provoking and pretty to look at and just a little bit subversive."Magnusson's signs tell stories in just a few words about the folly of being politically dismissive. His works feature all of the hallmarks of satire: an unexpected message, an acerbic tone, and immaculate verisimilitude. We were most impressed by the amazing authenticity of the pieces. It's almost as though he used the same machine shop to render such medal-worthy metallurgy. These signposts have caught the eye of several other outlets (here, here, and here) as well.
An actual New York State historical marker:
One of Magnussons' markers:
For modern epitomes of visual satire, we think of "South Park" or "New Yorker" covers. Parodies and caricatures are enjoyable spoofs, while racist illustrations and minstrel shows of the Civil War era are unsettling examples. Online YouTube takeoffs of music videos are increasingly popular in their lip-synched ridiculousness. And many infographics are now gaining traction in their mockery of infographics themselves.
By the way, if you find yourself in the Woodstock area in late July, we highly recommend the Ulster County Fair for its welcoming atmosphere, riveting pig races, and dusty horse pulls. Also, Mexicali Blue in New Paltz offers some of the tastiest burritos we’ve ever had. Our favorites were the chili lime chicken and the achiote pork with coconut aioli.