On one of the busiest intersections in the Twin Cities, just down Hennepin from the Walker, you’ll find a billboard that has become something of a Minneapolis institution. The Cotty Lowry Billboard is often defaced, and Mr. Lowry, a local realtor, is fine with that. In 2000, City Pages named the billboard Best Chronic Vandalism:
Lowry–who picks up the $7,000 annual tab for replacing the poster every six to ten weeks–says he often gets calls from people, even competitors, alerting him to the latest transformation, and he remains unfazed. Those eye patches, one-nostriled noses and pointy fangs have reeled in many a customer.
Recently, Mr. Lowry sponsored a contest at my alma mater, MCAD, calling for students to design a billboard that would be displayed. Two winners were chosen, Kyle Phillips and Antonia Maistrova:
Antonia Maistrova, photo by Patrick Kelley
Kyle Phillips, photo by me
I also found this brick wall concept by Kate Casanova on mnartists. It is interesting to note that the student’s art has not been defaced; perhaps honor amongst vandals is a theme that rings true. I think it is great that Mr. Lowry can not take himself so seriously. Clearly it is a strategy that seems to work for him and his business.
EDIT: I just biked by on my way to lunch and it seems the billboard has changed since I began preparing this post last week. Oops. But, the new billboard hasn’t been defaced yet, so now is your chance.