Suggestive Remarks

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“Cushioned Pavement”
“Sex for all over 70”
“Abolish Money”

These and hundreds of other intriguing recommendations are collected in a new book entitled Suggestion, a compilation of notes scrawled by New Yorkers as part of a four-year public art project initiated by the group Illegal Art.

For months, Otis Kriegel and Michael McDevitt, the group’s founding members, lugged clipboards, a big cardboard “Suggestion Box,” Sharpie pens and paper all over the city, encouraging passersby to write whatever they wanted. That box turned into a book. “It’s the natural progression of the art project,” explains Kriegel.

After gathering close to 2,000 scribbles, they chose roughly 360 suggestions to represent the full spectrum of ideas. “More Fellini. Less trophy dogs,” one writer demanded, while a more serious scribe called for “uplifting programs for the inner-city youth.”

The charm of Suggestion lies in its idiosyncrasy, seeing the phrases, “Everyone should swim with dolphins” and “Take breath mints when offered” sandwiched next to “Tell all terrorists to blow their families to pieces.”

“We wanted to create a forum where people can connect and share a story,” says McDevitt, a 44-year-old Brooklynite who is also cofounder of an advertising agency.

“It’s the unedited vox populi of the city,” agrees Kriegel, 33, a public school teacher with a passion for surfing. And because so many of the book’s suggestions evoke social issues, Kriegel and McDevitt decided to send copies to some local officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, who has yet to respond.

Part sculpture, part performance art and part public education, the “Suggestion Box” project furthers Illegal Art’s self-avowed crusade to shatter all boundaries between art and audience. Though not always technically illegal, most push the envelope of orderly conduct. Past projects have included chalking a poem across a sidewalk in Central Park and cordoning off areas of the city with yellow barrier tape printed with the words “Personal Space.”

So what’s next for the duo? “Well, we definitely know it will be interactive and public,” says Kriegel. The currently self-funded artists dream of doing work in Japan and South America, establishing a nonprofit organization to support art in schools and creating projects that will extend beyond their lifetimes. Like the suggestion box, each will bring what Kreigel calls “a wave of energy that is contagious.”

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