What do you find intriguing about manhole covers?

(This question was posed by my friend, Rosie Collins.)

My very first post explained that one art professor said I needed a theme.  Another professor noted a penchant for circles in my work.  So when I saw a page of manhole cover photographs, I knew that would be a “grate theme!” 

 “Sunburst” was constructed long before my manhole cover theme evolved.  Notice how it  relates to “Celestial Chimney Cover,” one of my first grate works.

Sunburst  Sunburst Construction  Celestial Chimney Cover   Celestial-Chimney-CoverWeb.jpg     

Now let’s hear from you.  What do you find intriguing about manhole covers?  

Please include your name, city and country with your answer.

10 replies on “What do you find intriguing about manhole covers?”

Bobbi –

ManHole Covers have been a source of thought and study for me for about 40 years. I suppose I have photographed over 1,000 of them during my travels around the planet. Who can say for sure what the attraction is? They contain all the various visual food groups one could want in a design diet; shape, texture, form, function, patina, mystery, charm. Either you “get it” or you don’t.

-Dean Corbitt


Below is the first paragraph of a statement Dean Corbitt wrote in 2003 about “ManHole Covers.”

“What we see all the time we stop seeing, if you know what I mean.” – Charles Kuralt

Few objects hold a Zen-like position in my psyche for as long as the manhole cover. I have photographed hundreds of them during my travels over the globe. They are an often seen object but mostly ignored, stepped on, driven over, over looked. Their name is unfortunate as it conjures up images of underworld, undercover, unpleasant – not a clear reflection of their great utilitarian function. If Charles were still around he could pen a lofty title for the lowly object. For my purposes, they are titled MHCs and are treated with all the respect due any Iron Age icon. A comparison of the manhole cover to both coin and mandala can be made. They are universal utilitarian objects found in the streets of third world countries and in the most elegant landscapes of premier cities in elite countries. They are both a transition and a barrier. Their design is a reflection of the culture that produced them. They are but one of my obsessions. -Dean Corbitt

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Karen Says:

Thanks for sharing your artwork and website with me! Wow! How very interesting that some of the most mundane things in our lives make a super focus for exploration. Working with grates must be similar to studying handwriting. Each one is unique and representing a “signature” of sorts leaving its mark on its location. Your work is beautiful.
I am especially a fan of people who find interesting things to do with paper fibers.
Thanks for letting us know you received your “Night at the Museum” tickets! Enjoy!
Karen McMahon
Lead Coordinator
*Shopping Online With Purpose*
3960 Sandpiper Lane Liverpool, NY 13090

“Night at the Museum” was so enjoyable. It’s the comedy movie event of the year! I hope my grandchildren get to see it! It is fun for kids of all ages.
It probably has increased attendance at the Museums of History, and that’s a good thing!

Dear Bobbi Mastrangelo

“I’ve found your website very informative, and your work extremely intriguing. The disparity between such intricately – made, expressive pieces of metalwork being used for such mundane purposes is thought – provoking to say the least, especially when the multitudes don’t even notice them in the first place. But when the multitudes spend so much time walking over them, being in such a hurry to get someplace without looking around at their surroundings, it’s not surprising…”

Al Maroun Greater Boston Area MA USA

Hello again, Bobbi.

I came across your website as I was searching the web for information on those sidewalk plaques I referenced last email. I was entering search words and phrases, and I found your site and works. I’m very happy I did; I’ve enjoyed looking at your works immensely, although I’d obviously prefer to study them in person some day. And, more importantly, your works and what you’re striving to convey (or at least what my impression is of what you’re striving to convey, I don’t mean to be presumptuous) has given me abstract food for thought, hence my interest in those sidewalk plaques: they’ve been made and placed with great care, as a testament to perhaps a trademan’s finest work, yet remain anonymous to almost everyone.
Al Maroun MA USA

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