This Is Not Just a Starbucks: Elevating Experience Through Corporate Art.

January 26th, 2011

By Scott Telek
Photos by Howard Williams

Scott Telek is a New York City oil painter. He is the publisher and pop culture critic at Cinema de Merde. See

Howard G. Williams is a New York City artist who deals largely in documentary photography

I sat in a Starbucks on Manhattan’s Upper West Side a few months ago, when my attention drifted to the large mural covering the wall. It was a mural clearly issued by corporate headquarters that told in pleasant, innocuous pictures the story of Starbucks coffee beans from picking to coffee shop. A week later I returned with a photographer, Howard Williams, to surreptitiously photograph the pieces–until the store staff noticed us and kicked us out. Thus started our inquiry of corporate art in Manhattan.

Howard and I visited four sites in Manhattan, finding different varieties of corporate-issued art, and what we determined is that they all have one ultimate aim: to distract the viewer from the impersonal, mass-produced environment they are in, and persuade them that they are having a much grander, far more elevated experience.

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