‘Last Chance’ Skywritten Messages Over NYC Not Warning But An Art Project


last-chance-sky-writingCryptic messages written in the sky over lower Manhattan – part of a kooky art project – mystified and unnerved New Yorkers Sunday afternoon.

Just after 4 p.m. a plane wrote the words “Last Chance” in the air. The message was preceded by”Lost Our Lease” and followed by “Now Open.”

Some Twitter users thought the “Last Chance” message was a terrorist threat. Others assumed the Wall St. protesters were behind it.

“How to give New Yorkers a heart attack: skywrite ‘LAST CHANCE’ above the city,” tweeted Peter Mele. “Yeah, they’ll love it.”

“The sky says last chance,” another person tweeted. “I’m skipping town.”

The skywriting turned out to be sponsored by Friends of the High Line, the non-profit behind the wildly popular elevated park.

Artist Kim Beck, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who lives part time in New York, chose messages from advertising billboards as cryptic comments on the faltering economy.

She watched the project, six months in the planning, from the High Line.

“Obviously people noticed,” she said. “Art is supposed to generate a conversation.”

Not everyone gave her concept rave reviews.

“There’s a skywriter over East River who is scribbling nonsense,” Brad Dickason tweeted.

“Call me crazy,” Allie Herzog tweeted, “but I don’t think ominously writing ‘Last Chance’ in smoke over NYC constitutes as ‘art.”

Some New Yorkers panicked.

“I was genuinely scared,” said Morgan, 29, an upper West Side actress who declined to give her last name. She was running with her boyfriend in Central Park when the messages began looming overhead.

“I was really concerned there was some sort of terrorist attack,” she said. “It’s so creepy.”

Beck said she never intended the project to provoke thoughts of terrorism.

“I’m aware of the fact that if there’s a plane in the sky and it’s over Manhattan and it’s close to the anniversary of Sept. 11 it’s a connection people might make,” she said. “I wanted to wait long enough after the anniversary that people wouldn’t make that connections but I can see how they could.”

Plans for the skywriting were announced ahead of time , with Beck encouraging witnesses to email her photos. She was inspired by  “The Wizard of Oz.”

She currently has sculptures on display on rooftops near the High Line and has a show opening at the Mixed Greens gallery in Chelsea Thursday.

“It’s obviously a very open-ended and consequently puzzling sort of project,” she said of Sunday’s event. “I can see why it would leave people with questions.”

The public may not have known what the messages meant, but it helped pay for them. The skywriting stunt was supported by city and state public funding, according to the High Line’s website.

Beck said the money paid for the plane and that she received no money for the work.

“I wanted a narrative trajectory towards something optimistic at the end, which was the last message, ‘Now Open,'” she said of the work.

“There’s this gesture of hopefulness at the end.”

{NY Daily News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Yesterday really must have been a completely newsless day at the – what blatt published this story? – oh yes, the NY Daily News.

    Enough said.