If you’ve driven past the former Wonder bread factory on Eighth and Grand streets in central Hoboken and “wondered” why there was a PacMan ghost looking back at you, meet Eric Klein, a.k.a, the Tape Artist.
Eric Klein, who also goes by E.S. Klein, has artfully crafted two video game ghosts on the walls of the old building. One was vandalized earlier this year, so he subsequently erected an American flag in its place. Yet, that story only scratches the surface of Klein’s work.
A stroll of Klein’s vast loft in a former factory building provides a glimpse of talent far richer than his exterior wall work. In fact, people outside of the area have been impressed as well. A YouTube video of Klein constructing the Eighth and Grand street American flag in fast-motion has gone viral.
His pieces can command up to $15,000.
Klein was born in Union, N.J. and moved to New York City to pursue acting in 2000. While spending time on the club scene, Klein befriended Peter Tunney. Tunney is a legendary New York pop artist who once made famed nightclub Crobar his residence. While bunking inside Crobar, Tunney introduced Klein to the immortality of art after hours. From that night on, Klein traded acting for taping.
“I went home that night and looked at this empty red frame,” said Klein, “which could have been an installation by itself. Then I just started throwing tape on it.”
Klein admits the results of his earlier work were not attractive. Despite that, Klein placed seven pieces in an amateur art show in his own loft on 30th Street in Manhattan.
Years of trial and error in which Klein “ruined his credit for a year” finally led to something that “stuck.”
Klein perfected the art of cutting snippets of tape with a razor blade and affixing them to Plexiglas. Eventually, he experimented with lacquers enough to settle on poly-urethane as a half-inch hardening glaze that provided a stained glass effect. With that, an art was born.
The secret to Hoboken
When asked how Klein wound up in Hoboken, Klein gave a nod to “The Secret.”
“This is funny,” Klein said. “I watched ‘The Secret,’ where thoughts become things. I asked for a 3,000 square foot loft in the $800 range and Hoboken came up.”
The reason Klein was able to “will” an enormous $800 loft space in Hoboken may have been because the space was formerly leased by a hoarder who didn’t inhabit it.
“It had no heat, no bedrooms,” said Klein, “and it took multiple trucks and over a hundred bags to get everything out.”
Klein personally built four bedrooms into the loft.
Today, the perimeter of the entire space offers more than 70 pieces of artwork ranging from Jessica Rabbit to a Nintendo controller to Jolt Cola.
Nearly everything in Klein’s loft is taped, right down to the kitchen table.
People drop off random items for Klein to tape also. This week, Klein plans to tape a six foot long plastic seashell (by request) and a kid’s toy Jeep.
“Someone even asked me to tape their Porsche,” he said.
Klein also has pieces like “Endless Chess” that camouflage taped items like tables, chairs, and wine glasses, against matching backdrops. People can step into the installation to break up the camouflage and see the items that were hidden to the naked eye.
It’s hard to tell which piece will be the Campbell’s soup can that leads to Warhol-like idolatry for Klein, but he’s likely got one. He has finally reached a point where his pieces are selling daily. Ranging from a few hundred dollars to $15,000, Klein has come a long way from throwing tape on a picture frame.
To visit Klein’s work, visit www.tapeartist.com.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.