Abcon gets artsy

The media company is unveiling a new billboard at Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto that uniquely combines art and advertising.

It’s an iconic image: ’30s-era construction workers taking a moment to catch the view, high above the New York City skyline. And now Torontonians can catch a reinterpretation of that image on their own skyline, thanks to a new art-meets-advertising billboard from Abcon Media.

Inspired by the famous 1932 photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper by Charles Ebbets, Abcon’s newest media is designed to host two 12′ x 32′ billboard ads, facing north and east, each illuminated by a row of lights. Atop the new unit will sit 17 life-sized sculptures, designed by New York artist Sergio Furnari, inspired by the men who sat atop a crossbeam on the GE Building at Rockefeller Center before it was finished in 1933.

The idea to do a permanent billboard installation featuring original artwork first struck in 2003, Abcon president and CEO Leslie Abro tells MiC. However, suitable artistic inspiration did not strike him until 2006, when he spotted a truck featuring similar artwork by Furnari and contacted the artist to see if he would work with Abcon on an installation combining art and advertising. He agreed, and since then, the two have been going back and forth to develop the piece.

Although there isn’t an advertiser on board for the unveiling of the installation, Abro says, he’s confident that once advertisers see it in person, filling the space won’t be a problem. ‘We have to get them there to see it so they can understand what we’re talking about,’ he says, adding that as far as he knows, Abcon is the first media company to utilize the Lunch Atop a Skyscraper imagery for an installation.

The Sergio Furnari installation that inspired the piece.