Pictures of Taylor Swift are all over New York these days — she’s the city’s “Global Welcome Ambassador for Tourism” — but only one is a memorial for the pop star, who is not deceased and probably not about to disappear from public view anytime soon. (Swift just sold 1.287 million copies of her new album, 1989, in one week.)
A boutique on Manhattan’s Lower East Side asked graffiti artist Antonio “Chico” Garcia, who’s known for his murals commemorating long-gone cultural figures like Princess Diana, to paint their storefront with a picture Swift and the words “RIP Taylor Swift.”
Kara Mullins and Osvaldo Jimenz co-own the store that commissioned the art, a vintage shop called La Petite Mort. They are also married, and got into a major argument about whose face to put on their gate.
“It was intense,” Jimenz wrote in an email to Yahoo Style. “Kara felt we should do a dead celebrity. I didn’t really care for it because why tie ourselves to a dead stranger’s brand? We are trying to make our own wave. But as they say ‘happy wife, happy life,’ and I conceded. Once we started looking at names I again got frustrated and in a fit of exhaustion said, ‘F*** that let’s do a memorial for someone alive — like Taylor Swift?’ After laughing to tears and some much-needed make-up sex, the rest is history.”
The woman that Garcia painted doesn’t actually look much like Swift. It’s doubtful anyone would know who it was supposed to be if it didn’t say “RIP Taylor Swift” by her head. This, Jimenz explains, is part of the charm of his work, which he’s been a fan of since moving to the Lower East Side as a teenager in 1988. “Growing up we thought his work was hilarious,” he wrote. “It was always a joke amongst my friends as to what celebrity he was actually painting. The celebrities never looked like the actual celebrity, some of the figures were deformed, and the perspective would be all wrong to the point that you would argue anyone could do them using the opposite of their writing hand. But he belonged to us.”
Mullins and Jimenz have yet to hear from Swift or her representatives about the art. “We’d like to think that she’s got a pretty good sense of humor,” Jimenz wrote. “We’re still waiting for her to stop by and take a selfie!”
They have, however, gotten feedback from her fans. “It’s mostly hate,” Jimenz wrote. “Everything from a mild ‘Don’t hate on Taylor’ to an over the top ‘I encouraged God to give you HIV-AIDS.’ But we have to say overall response from New Yorkers has been positive. They think it’s hilarious.”