Hidden in the Stairwell

The building I work in is a repurposed warehouse. Two of them, actually, each with their own passenger elevator. The elevator for the side of the building I work on only goes down to the second floor, however. That means that when I enter the building on the first floor, I’m looking at two elevator rides to reach my floor.

Needless to say, one of the first things I did on starting work there was find the stairwell that lets me skip the ride between the first and second floors. Even if I didn’t mind using mechanical means to accomplish something it takes me less time to do under my own power, elevators and I don’t always get along. Too many elevator rides in a short period of time, and I’ll spend a day or two feeling like I’m riding them.

These stairs are…not great otherwise. They’re steep, the treads aren’t very deep, and the height is not entirely even from one step to the next. They were obviously made to be used in a pinch in a warehouse, not to coddle office workers like me.

However, building management did something smart to make the stairwells more appealing. They painted them. From walking in the door on the first floor to walking out on the second, this is what you see.

Painting of woman with flowing hair, no irises or pupils, and an atomic symbol on the back of her hand.

Surreal painting of a train in front of mountains and something pink with an eye on the end of an elephant's trunk.

More painting of the train, one landing up.

Engine of the train and lotus-like flower another landing up.

Abstract banner of floral shapes.

Portrait of a man surrounded by tractors, formerly manufactured in the building.

Who wouldn’t walk up if they could?

Hidden in the Stairwell

8 thoughts on “Hidden in the Stairwell

  1. 3

    I don’t tnink it was the management that commissioned those murals. In fact, I would be careful not to mention their existance around people who might report to management. You might come in one morning to find that the stairwells had been painted Institutional Beige.

  2. 4

    stever, you think guerrilla artists could produce such high quality work planned precisely for the space off the cuff while trespassing? That art took days of work, including some ladder and trestle work, to produce. Somebody got paid to do that work in an authorised fashion.

    Streets near me are known around Sydney for their authorised street art works. Businesses work in conjunction with urban art collectives to sponsor their artist development programs in return for teams of artists using one of their large blank exterior walls. Some of the walls have permanent works, some of them are overpainted monthly. It brightens up the neighborhood and discourages the amateur graffiti kids from using those walls, because they respect the work done and aspire to being that sort of legitimate street artist themselves.

  3. 5

    Lots of places do legal street murals. A block up from my house in Toronto, a condemned house got used legally as a local art project for a few months before being torn down.

    One of the more famous Canadian entries is the town of Chemainus, B.C., which was a logging town where the local mill got rebuilt with greater automation and put 3/4 of the employees out of work. The town responded by encouraging people to put murals up all along the main street of town, drawing in tourist money, and now have a thriving theatre business. (Granted, the logging industry is still pretty active there, too, but that’s not what they’re mostly known for now.)

  4. 6

    I’d be inclined to agree with stever. And yes, I’ve seen some spectacular ‘graffiti’, particularly when travelling in Europe. Luckily, the germans, at least, have a pretty laissez faire attitude towards actual decorative graffiti.

    Someone here on FTB had a thread series going of street art like that at one point.

  5. 7

    I have to add. When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be a bad thread (my wife tells me about hiding in a stairwell back before I knew her. It wasn’t a good thing.), so thanks for the uplift.

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