Snapshot NY: Broadway Engineer Finds Creative Outlet During Pandemic Pause

When Broadway closed its doors, more than 100,000 people suddenly had to look for work. During the pause, one engineer behind the scene had to get creative. He's the focus of this week's Snapshot New York with Steve Overmyer.

Video Transcript

- --Broadway closed its doors. More than 100,000 Broadway employees were left to look for work.

- And during the pause, one behind the scenes engineer got creative, and he is the focus of this week's Snapshot New York with Steve Overmyer.

STEVE OVERMYER: In a workshop filled with iron and steel, an artist is finding his form of expression.

JESSE HANCOX: I didn't think of it as art when I started. I just thought of it as something to do.

STEVE OVERMYER: Jesse Hancox has spent his career as a lighting technician on Broadway, but when Broadway went dark, he had an idea.

JESSE HANCOX: My grandmother's spinach ball recipe that everyone seems to love. I'm like, oh, there's something new and different, and maybe I could sell spinach balls. Seriously.

STEVE OVERMYER: So he put his grandma's spinach balls on the back burner because his wife, Tiffany, stumbled onto something different. She saw a steampunk lamp for sale for $600.

JESSE HANCOX: Felt like I could probably do that and maybe step it up a little bit.

STEVE OVERMYER: So he went to work with a wrench and pipes to create a personalized gift for his wife.

JESSE HANCOX: It's the challenge of finding personality from pipes and fittings.

STEVE OVERMYER: The result wasn't just a lamp, it became a beacon to his future.

TIFFANY HANCOX: This was just so fun, and it just brought a nice smile, like life, happiness. Light-- to serve of a dark situation.

STEVE OVERMYER: You have a name for the little guy?

JESSE HANCOX: It's Louie. Louie Lamp. Yeah, every piece is Louie doing different activities.

STEVE OVERMYER: After he shared the photo on social media, everyone wanted a Louis Lamp.

JESSE HANCOX: That was the moment that I was like, oh, my God, this is really art, and I didn't think of myself as an artist in any way.

STEVE OVERMYER: Since then, he's created 29 personalized pieces of Steampunk art, made popular in science fiction. It's basically modern technology using 19th century industrial machinery. It's like upcycling everyday materials.

JESSE HANCOX: Like an old 1950s chainsaw, that is now going to be a lawnmower for a lamp, you know? Absolutely. That's exciting. It lives front and center, and living as something else is kind of neat.

STEVE OVERMYER: It forces you to look at the world differently.

JESSE HANCOX: As much as I reinvented myself, it's like reinventing these parts.

STEVE OVERMYER: Like a modern-day Geppetto, he takes inanimate materials and breathes life into them, a second career created from taking a chance.

JESSE HANCOX: It's opening yourself up to something new and stepping up to that challenge. I didn't feel like an artist, but I guess I kind of do now.

- I'm pretty sure you are one.

- Yeah, I think so.

- Jesse's lamps are now featured in homes of artists and also in various art galleries.

- A modern-day Geppetto, well put.

- They like have personality.

- They really do, and they're pipes that don't leak, so we love that.