The men, women, and children in Jane Dickson’s subway mural “Revelers” have been celebrating New Year’s Eve in the Times Square subway station nonstop for ten years, with no appearance of ever slowing down. The Murano glass mosaic depicts dozens of partyers in all kinds of colors, dancing, kissing, shaking noisemakers, blowing into horns, wearing silly hats, and checking their watches to see how far away midnight is. Actually, a few do look plum-tuckered out.
Dickson was an inspired choice to design the work. Born in Chicago, she came to New York City in 1978, a few years after college, and moved into the Times Square area, where she got a job operating the Spectacolor billboard. She also took photographs and made paintings of the neighborhood and its denizens, which has been re-created in the HBO series The Deuce; Dickson used to hang out in the real bar that James Franco’s character runs in the show and was friends with the bartender who Margarita Levieva’s character (Abby) is based on. The artist shares her story in the new book Jane Dickson in Times Square (Anthology Editions, October 2018, $50).
Dickson quickly became part of the New York art world, joining the influential Colab collective, going to late-night clubs, and meeting Mimi Gross, Nan Goldin, Kathy Acker, Peter Hujar, Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz, Jenny Holzer, Fab 5 Freddy (who wrote the afterword for her book), and her soon-to-be husband, Charlie Ahearn. Dickson and Ahearn, the writer-director-producer of the genre-defining hip-hop graffiti flick Wild Style, even raised two children in their apartment on Forty-Third St. and Eighth Ave. These days, most of us wouldn’t go anywhere near Times Square on December 31, but the rest of the year you can catch these revelers having a lot more fun in the subway than the rest of us.