Decoder Ring: The Sign Painter

Decoder Ring is Slate's show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit, examines its history, and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.
This episode introduces you to Ilona Granet, who was a New York art-scene fixture who won the praise of the art world when she put up anti-harassment street signs in lower Manhattan in the mid- 1980s. Her career seemed like a sure thing, but three decades on, and so much more art later, it still hasn’t materialized, even as her contemporaries are now hanging in museums. This episode is not about the familiar myth of making it, but the mystery of not making it. What happens, to an artist—to anyone—when they’re good enough, but that’s not enough?
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