I stumbled onto this backwards and the actual site which I’ll link at the bottom of this has the last part first, one of the drawbacks of the ‘top to bottom’ format.
The story in order is that an artist who goes by the name of Poster Child believes that public spaces (sidewalks, parks, etc) have been taken over by ads, and so he battles this creeping loss of public spaces by placing his art in similar situations. He came up with the idea of making the Question Boxes from the Mario games and placing them around town. Some of them they filled with power-ups, cardboard cuts of the coins, flowers and mushrooms from the games.
It looks like the idea started to catch on and other people started doing the same. There are some wonderful pictures of the boxes hanging from light poles, trees, and other places. These are pictures from various places in the United States, Canada and even the United Kingdom.
Then things went bad. Five high school girls put up about 17 Question Blocks around the downtown area of Ravenna Ohio. Somebody called the police about a “suspicious package” on the steps of the Immaculate Conception Church and while the sheriff's department was investigating a few other calls came in about similar packages. Then the Hazardous Material Unit and the Bomb Squad were called in. The girls are facing possible criminal charges.
Here is the link which has links to the news story as well.
I love the whole retro 8-bit Mario as art thing. Here is an older link to some students who made Mario murals on the windows of the E2 building at UCSC using Post-It notes last year.
On a musical front here is a link to a cappella performance of various Nintendo themes. When this went around our office last year I found the name of the group performing it and unfortunately I can’t find it now. I think it’s really crappy that all these sites that I’ve found that host the video don’t list who they are. While searching for the name of the group I did find Maria & Zelda: Big Band Live.
I would love some of these Mario toys. The audio keychain and fridge magnets are especially cool. I’ve seen the little dioramas at one of the local comic shops but unless I got it wrong they were asking that price for one, where on J-List that is the price for the set.