The Faux Rag & Bone Video Store Ad Mural

Posted on: July 15th, 2019 at 5:07 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

With hipsters and millennials fiending for analog media like vinyl and cassette tapes, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if VHS movies were to stage a comeback as well. But no, there’s not actually a “video store coming soon” here. It’s Matt Starr’s contribution to the Rag & Bone mural wall on Elizabeth and Houston Street.

Starr, a new media artist who is perhaps better known for his pedestrian stopping guerrilla art like “Vote or Die, Literally,” and “I’m Sorry – Fox News,” wanted to impart a piece that paid homage to the crude hand-made signage of video store windows. The addition is a nostalgic reminder of the lost lingo of VHS rental that baited pedestrians with boastful claims of “thousands of titles,” “films in all genres,” and “guaranteed in stock day-and-day release.”

Starr’s street art intercepts the pedestrian with direct black on white signage that appears anonymous compared to the stylish lettering of other street artists. The text is eye-catching precisely because it’s so boldly devoid of any aesthetic.

Photo: Eddie Panta

Starr researched a ton of old photos of video stores but credits the long-lost Kim’s Video on St. Mark’s for most of the inspiration.

But Starr’s love of movies doesn’t stop here. He’s also the guy behind My Annie Hall (2017), a 30 minute, word-for-word remake of the Woody Allen classic that is cast entirely with senior citizens. Alvy Singer is played by 92-year-old local Harry B. Miller. The idea for the senior reboot came when Starr found the best way to communicate with his Alzheimer stricken grandmother was by exchanging lines from Casablanca (something she always remembered). Woody Allen eventually approved of the project. This wasn’t Starr’s only Be Kind Rewind style film project; he also redid the infamous Kim Kardasian sex tape, but with a cell phone with Starr’s face on the screen in place of Ray J’s member.

Starr’s Rag & Bone mural brought back fond memories for those who passed by and stopped to reminisce about wondering the video store aisles lined with VHS boxes to find a lost classic instead of scrolling through a website. The legendary Kim’s Video Store closed in 2008, the entire VHS collection inexplicably ended up in a small town in Italy for digitization purposes, a task they are no doubt still working on; the neighborhood lost its local video store, Cinema Nolita, back in July 2009; and Blockbuster on East Houston closed in 2010. For now, though, it seems digital has killed the video store, just not its storefront aesthetic.

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