"Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck." Sure, you can bend over, grab a dirty, disease-drenched penny and hope something good comes your way (though more likely you'll catch some virus). Or you can be like Michael Worthington and use that penny to create your own luck.
Worthington is a Brooklyn-based artist who uses the one-cent coin as the centerpiece of his "Lucky Penny Paintings
He finds pennies (or as he puts it, "They usually find me") on the ground, and then creates art based on where he picked up the little Lincoln
. Sometimes abstract, sometimes representational, the paintings explore different aspects of these locations.
Keep reading for more on Worthington's "Lucky Penny" paintings.
Worthington, who had been working in the entertainment industry, found himself unemployed by the turn of the century. But he became inspired after navigating the streets of New York
"I'd walk around, amused by all the change I'd see on city streets," Worthington tells Asylum. "A city so wealthy, money dropped was unimportant."
Worthington saw an artistic opportunity that would change his luck. (See what we did there?) His penny paintings now go for $200 to $400 (or 20,000 to 40,000 pennies).
The 4-by-4-inch square blocks symbolize the artistic interpretation of a particular location, while the penny itself sits prominently in the center of the piece. Around the coin are the words "Lucky Penny," as well as a number, which denotes the order by which Worthington found the penny. The date and city Worthington picked up the copperhead is on the side of the block.
Worthington has turned his currency collection
into something of a pop-art travel diary. Think Rick Steves
by way of Warhol. For Worthington, each "penny becomes a portal."
For most of his paintings, New York City is Worthington's muse, and the pennies serve as an excuse to document the many facets of Gotham's diverse neighborhoods. He has also featured foreign pennies from Barbados, France and Iceland, as well as those uncovered in other exotic lands, like Akron, Ohio.
So far, Worthington has done 90 "Lucky Penny" paintings, with no sign of stopping. When he spots a penny, Worthington keeps it in a small envelope and notes the location and date. He keeps finding the good luck charms and says he has "hundreds more to paint."
You can see many of Worthington's "Lucky Penny" paintings on display at Smith Hanten Real Estate
in Cobble Hill.