Artist Leon Reid IV on His Melting Newspaper Box Sculpture Outside Printed Matter

If you’ve passed Chelsea’s venerable art bookstore Printed Matter lately, you’ve probably noticed the melting newspaper box installed on the sidewalk, the latest of monthly concert calendar Showpaper‘s artist-designed distribution boxes. The functional sculpture, titled “Hot Off The Press,” is a collaboration between Leon Reid IV and Poster Boy; ARTINFO asked Reid how the very summery idea came about, and which existing newspaper boxes served as inspiration.

Where did the idea of making a box in the shape of a melting freezer come from?

My aesthetic has always been about making slight changes to ordinary street objects while keeping it simple, this is so that the average pedestrian can understand my work quickly without breaking stride. I raised the idea of a melting box to Poster Boy (my collaborator on this Showpaper project). Poster Boy thought it was a good place to start because it would be odd to see something so familiar distorted in such a way. Once the box’s form and color scheme began to appear, Poster Boy suggested writing “HOT” in traditional ice box letter scheme; the wording consistent with a melting box and the term “Hot Off The Press” so often used in the old media days.

How was the process of making the box? How did you create the illusion of melting metal?

The process of making “Hot Off The Press” was simpler than it seems. We cut off the back right corner of the box at a 45 degree angle, sketched out a puddle shape on sheet steel and had it cut out, welded the two elements together and applied paint.

Do you have a favorite distribution box, aside from your own, be it by a previous Showpaper artist or one of the many used by the city’s newspapers and magazines?

I like the shape of USA Today newsboxes. They are the most sculptural and look like televisions propped up on old school ashtrays. In the late 1990s, back in my hometown of Cincinnati, we used to “redesign” these newsboxes quite often — the USA Today box was always the most fun.

What’s your next project?

My next project is called “A Spider Lurks In Brooklyn.” I propose a massive, inflatable spider to be suspended inside the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. The project is fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts and we’re raising funds for it now.

— Benjamin Sutton