Sidewalk art exhibit uses maps as canvases

Ivan Ortiz and Mark Alequin -- aka Tev1 -- aren't hard to find if you know where to look.

Ivan Ortiz and Mark Alequin -- aka Tev1 -- aren't hard to find if you know where to look.

For 15 years the artists have set up their tables in the same spot on Prince Street.

"People come and look for you at this spot," says Alequin, "I have customers from all over the world 'Hey, you seen the map guy?  You seen the map guy?'"

As he lays out his tools, Alequin says he's had to squabble with other artists to keep his spot more times than he can count.

Paint, paint pens, and markers are applied to city maps and subway maps as canvases.

Both men work in distinct styles devised from lifetimes of practice.  See the work as it's made -- talk to the guys because they're in their element.

Isack Kousnsky is an artist and collector whose studio is only half a block away.  He buys Mark and Ivan's work on a fairly regular basis, a loyalty rewarded with discounted prices from the artists.  He buys because he believes in them and their art.

"Somebody will find them. Let them paint, give them canvases -- 8 by 8, 6 by 6, 12 by 12," says Kousnsky,   "And they will be,  maybe five years,  maybe 10 years, maybe two years, and they will be big shots -- you know?"

Kousnsky has a fine sense of what's good and, more importantly, what he likes. He calls Ivan and Mark pure, saying they just work and work the day away. 

Art lovers flock to New York City for the shows, galleries, and museums. 

But, look around you -- that's where some of the best stuff is.

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