If you've recently walked by Cake Shop, which played its last song on New Year's Eve, you may have noticed a flickering neon sign in the window. It says one word: VANISHING.
The sign is the brainchild of artists Troy Kreiner and Brian Broker of Shameless Enterprise, in collaboration with "Vanishing New York" and built by neon artist Patrick Nash. The 20-something offspring of native New Yorkers, raised nearby in Nassau County, Troy and Brian created the sign to bring attention to the plight of vanishing small businesses in the city they love.
"Neon is poetic," says Troy. "The singular word, VANISHING, echoes the OPEN signs you see in store windows." Only this sign communicates the opposite, announcing closure and finality with its irregular rhythm, like a heartbeat fading out. "The light was engineered to flicker," Troy explains, "like it's on its last legs. And neon is a fragile material, hand-crafted, ingrained in the cultural history of the city."
The sign commemorates what's being lost. Its creators also hope to inspire resistance.
"Hearing about the closures on social media is one thing," says Brian, "but seeing it in the context of the neighborhood is another."
The sign is a physical representation of loss, and the artists want the people walking by to have an emotional experience when they see it. "There's a lot of hopelessness and defeatism about this issue," says Troy, "but this could be a small gesture to inspire people to fight for change. It's hopeful, even in its sadness."
What future plans are in store for the sign? Brian says, "Hopefully, businesses will stop closing so we can throw the sign out." Since that's unlikely to happen anytime soon, the guys and I would love to see the sign displayed in more windows, to bring more attention to what has become an epidemic of vanishing.
If you manage a small business on the verge of vanishing, or you know someone who does, and you'd like to host the sign in your window, please get in touch with Brian and Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact them through their site -- and follow them on Instagram.
For the next couple of weeks, at least, you can see the sign at Cake Shop, located at 152 Ludlow Street. Watch it in action right here:
P.S. As for Cake Shop, the owners plan to return with a new name and no music. So, maybe only sort of partially vanishing.