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Posts Tagged ‘OverUnder’

Dona Zita Murals by OverUnder and ND'A Awaiting Their Fate. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

Last summer, street artists OverUnder and ND’A painted murals for the restaurant Plaza Mexico Doña Zita on the Bowery and Henderson Walk in Coney Island. Giant tropical flowers blossomed on a fence on the Henderson side of Thor Equities’ construction site and brought a garden of street art to Doña Zita’s. Unlike some of its neighbors, this popular little eatery has managed to survive the upheaval brought about by Coney Island’s rezoning and redevelopment. Yet Doña Zita’s proximity to Thor’s empty lots made the seating area less than scenic. Then the murals appeared, almost miraculously, and transformed the view.

Since construction on Thor’s building is completed and the fencing was taken down, the Doña Zita murals have been piled up in the lot across the street, awaiting their fate. Murals from the Bowery, Surf and Stillwell sides of the building, which were painted by OverUnder, ND’A, Veng, Radical and Ephameron for a project curated by Keith Schweitzer for No Longer Empty, have already disappeared. Last month, some panels were spotted in a botched reassembly at another Thor construction site in Bensonhurst.

Coney Island mural

Coney Island mural with ND'A by O V E R U N D E R, on Flickr. June 30, 2011. Photo © O V E R U N D E R. All Rights Reserved

Do street artists have a tough skin when it comes to the fate of their work? ATZ contacted the No Longer Empty muralists to find out.

The artist known as OverUnder told ATZ: “Although it is saddening to see the handling of one’s public work by people, critics, and the weather, it is also inherent to the work. I would take seeing the sun and rains effect on a mural over a construction workers lack of reassembly any day but beggars, errr, street artists can’t be choosers.”

At the same time, OverUnder and the other artists are sad to see colorful, handmade, authentic signage of Coney Island replaced by pre-fab or generic signs.

“I was very pleased and honored to be able to paint something out at Coney Island,” wrote ND’A in an email. “Ever since I moved to New York the old signs and murals have always stopped me in my tracks. I think in our line of work it is a hope, not an expectation, that things will be a fixture and not ephemeral.”

“That being said,” ND’A added, “If the construction site remains unable or unwilling to put everything back to its original state I know we are all generally chomping at the bit to paint big outdoor projects. If you know of any spots where we could do more murals I’d love to put more work out there.”

Coney Island mural O V E R U N D E R with ND'A

Coney Island mural with ND'A by O V E R U N D E R, on Flickr. June 30, 2011. Photo © O V E R U N D E R. All Rights Reserved

Thor Equities new building remains vacant and is now encased in plywood except for the side on Henderson Walk, which is the back of the building and has no windows. “I see a blank canvas for No Longer Empty,” wrote one of the commenters on our recent post about the building. We’d like to see more murals too, but Thor is already throwing up advertisements. This week, signs touting “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME – for leasing contact..” went up on the Stillwell side. Thor debuted the odious slogan last May.

Doña Zita’s is located on Coney Island’s Bowery at Henderson Walk, one of the few historic “walks” remaining in Coney. We love her food and so did the artists. The restaurant also gets high marks on Yelp, Serious Eats (“Tacos plus sandy feet and the smell of the ocean equals the perfect summer combination”) and Time Out (“the finest quesadilla this side of Sunset Park”).

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February 5, 2012: Botched Job: Coney Island Art Exiled by Thor Equities

June 1, 2011: Photo Album: Street Art Down by the Coney Island Bowery

May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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Thor Equities

No Longer Empty's Artwork Reposted at Shore Parkway. February 4, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Last week, ATZ reported that the construction fencing at Thor Equities’ Surf and Stillwell lot in Coney Island had come down to reveal a sterile-looking, one-story building. What happened to the blue boards, which were emblazoned with murals by No Longer Empty artists as part of a project sponsored by the City’s Economic Development Corporation? Coney’s eagle-eyed Captain Nemo spotted some in a botched reassembly at another Thor construction site in Brooklyn and posted on the Coney Island Message Board:

The artists who tried to remove the blight that Sitt placed upon Coney Island turning his ugly blue construction fences into canvases of art, can visit their artwork by visiting his close by Bay Parkway project. He sent in the bulldozers to clear that land, and took along his Coney Island blue plywood construction fencing to his latest blight project. The artists work is mismatched and looks like impressionist artwork of the worst order.

This slide show by photographer Bruce Handy shows jumbled sections of the Coney Island murals incorporated into construction fencing at 1752 Shore Parkway in Bensonhurst. The site is Thor Equities’ $150 million Bay Center project, where BJ’s Wholesale Club is expected to be the anchor tenant.

Nobody expects the guys who put up and take down Thor’s construction fences to be art handlers, but couldn’t they at least match up the panels? After all the work that went into the murals, it would have been nice if somebody in charge at Thor Equities–Hey, Joey!– had thought of reusing them to beautify another site.

Thor CEO Joe Sitt, whose self-proclaimed nickname is “Joey Coney Island,” likes to tell reporters “I view Coney Island as a national and international treasure.” If that’s true, why not move the murals, which were created for Coney Island, to one of his other lots in Coney? There’s an unsightly empty lot at Surf and West 12th, where the Bank of Coney Island and concession booths were demolished in 2010 to make way for nothing.

No Longer Empty Coney Island

No Longer Empty Mural Project, Coney Island, April 2011. Featured Artists: Ephameron, ND’A, OverUnder, Radical & Veng. Photo © Keith Schweitzer

Last April, the City’s Economic Development Corporation brought in No Longer Empty, a non-profit that curates site specific art exhibitions, to dress up the fences which greeted visitors when they first exited Stillwell Terminal. The above photo shows the finished mural on Thor’s fences surrounding the then empty lot at Surf and Stillwell.

Keith Schweitzer, who founded and curates NLE’s mural project, made this wonderfully edgy video of three street artists’ 48-hour transformation of Thor’s construction fence at Surf and Stillwell. As he explains in his blog: “Beginning with the main entrances to the park and working our way inward, six artists covered more than 4,000 square feet of exterior surfaces with artwork referencing Coney Island‘s legendary iconography and the surrounding beachfront boardwalk’s imagery.” Veng, OverUnder and Ephameron, who are seen painting the boards in the vid, are among the artists whose work has turned up in a jumble on Shore Parkway.

UPDATE February 7, 2012:

As mentioned by one of the commenters on this post, the murals on the Bowery side were also taken down and a few of the mismatched panels were put up to cover the windowless wall of Thor’s new building.

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March 2, 2012: Coney Island Murals by Street Artists Await Their Fate

June 1, 2011: Photo Album: Street Art Down by the Coney Island Bowery

May 5, 2011: May 7: Coney Island Boardwalk Trash Can Art Contest

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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Coney Island Murals

No Longer Empty in Coney Island: Polar Bear by Veng and ND'A painting Down by the Boardwalk. May 28, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday in Coney Island, we passed by the Bowery side of Thor Equities’ blue construction fence to find an artist working on a Down by the Boardwalk-themed painting. It features a friendly octopus holding a boombox and a note saying “On a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be.” Like the three street artists whose work we wrote about last month in “Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island,” ND’A aka Nick was sent by the art organization No Longer Empty and the City’s Economic Development Corporation to beautify the streetscape.

ND'A

ND'A painting Down by the Boardwalk. May 28, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Keith Schweitzer, who organized the mural project for No Longer Empty, told ATZ about the other new murals: “The polar bear – to the left of Nick’s octopus – is by Veng, the same artist who painted the semi-realistic faces and clown on the Stillwell wall. He’s a quiet, talented man and often full of surprises. He arrived at the wall that morning and said ‘I am going to paint a polar bear.’. It was later I found out that he & his family/friends take part in the Polar Bear Club activity at Coney Island each year. Like I said, he’s a quiet man, and I’m not sure if hearing about Rabbi Abraham Abraham’s recent passing away had anything to do with the subject of the mural.”

No Longer Empty in Coney Island: ND'A painting Down by the Boardwalk... May 28, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

As for the large CONEY letters guarded by New York’s Finest in the photo below, they were painted by OverUnder, who also painted the Stillwell Avenue side of the fence with Veng. “OverUnder did the whimsical swimmers and the heart ‘Love to Sea you,’ and other elements of the wall,” says Schweitzer. “On one of the days that we were painting Stillwell Ave, a newlywed couple walked toward OverUnder from the boardwalk having just taken post-wedding photos. They were in full wedding attire and asked OverUnder if he would paint something for them. OverUnder obliged, asking their names, and painted their initials H&B inside of a heart. That was not part of the planned composition, but it developed into the wonderful ‘tattoo’ heart and I am happy to see that many people stop to be photographed in front of the heart.”

CONEY by OverUnder

No Longer Empty in Coney Island: CONEY by OverUnder. May 28, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

We’re happy to see these fanciful paintings bringing good vibrations to this decimated block. As previously noted, it’s a good solution to distract people’s attention from the construction fence and the empty lot at the gateway to Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk. Sad to say, the century-old Henderson Music Hall stood here until real estate speculator Joe “Blight for Spite” Sitt knocked it down in January. A pile driver was recently moved onto the lot at Surf and Stillwell. Behind the blue fence, a foundation for a high rise is being built, on top of which a placeholder one-story commercial building will be plopped next season. Nothing can quell my sorrow that we lost the zoning battle to keep high rises of up to 30 stories off the south side of Surf.

Update, June 14th…

Visit Vandalog to see photos of the latest mural on the blue wall: The street artist Radical has painted an ice-cream cone slurping hot dog!

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Keith Schweitzer, who founded and curates No Longer Empty’s mural project, made this wonderfully edgy video of three street artists’ 48-hour transformation of Thor’s construction fence at Surf and Stillwell. The artists are Veng, OverUnder and Ephameron. We wrote about the project last month in “Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island,” (ATZ, April 15).

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May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

February 9, 2011: Art of the Day: Monster Truck Mural at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

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Coney Island Murals by No Longer Empty. April 14, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Our view from Stillwell Terminal of Surf Avenue is changing again. On Thursday afternoon, we were riveted by a series of photos tweeted by “No Longer Empty” from Coney Island. Whimsical and sophisticated murals of faces, fish, water, beach-goers and divers were blossoming on Thor Equities blue construction fence. At the same time, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy took a series of photos of the murals, which he posted on flickr.

NLE’s Facebook page explains, “Partnering with the Economic Development Corporation, No Longer Empty brought in OverUnder and Veng and Ephameron to brighten the streetscape in Coney Island.”

Based on the work at Ephameron’s website, she’s the woman contemplating her work in the above photo. The old-fashioned looking faces were painted by Veng, who says he borrows from techniques of the Northern Renaissance and looks to capture the feel of something made long ago. Sorry, We’re Clothed
appears to be OverUnder’s work. (Veng has since confirmed that our guess was correct!) There’s a piece about the artist on the blog Brooklyn Street Art which describes him as “an illustrator, painter, and text writer.”

Murals

Coney Island Murals by No Longer Empty. April 14, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

We’re thrilled to see Art instead of “Post No Bills” on Thor’s fence. It’s a good solution to distract people’s attention from the construction fence and the empty lot where the century-old Henderson stood. But we have to wonder if Joe Sitt is paying the artists or reimbursing the City for the cost? Construction has been delayed on the site because the DOB “DISAPPROVED” the building plans as many as 16 times over the past six months. As we have noted many times, Sitt evicted amusement operators from Stillwell in 2007 to “allow the new development to proceed in a timely manner,” but has built NOTHING here except a failed flea market in 2009.

Last April, the Coney Island Development Corporation installed fence wraps advertising Coney’s attractions on the City’s then-empty parcels on the Boardwalk side of Stillwell. Since Thor Equities Stillwell lots had remained vacant, the CIDC got permission to install the wraps on Thor’s property as well. The advertising campaign did a good job of hiding what remained of Thor’s tent structures from 2009’s failed flea market. Empty No Longer’s murals will hide Thor’s newest empty lot.

murals

Coney Island Murals by No Longer Empty. April 14, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Who is “No Longer Empty”? According to their website

No Longer Empty (NLE) is a comprised of arts advocates, curators and artists who orchestrate public art exhibitions in vacated storefronts and properties in New York City. The non-profit organization was conceived as an artistic response to our present economic condition and to revitalize empty spaces and areas around the venues by bringing thoughtful, high-caliber art installations with accompanying programs to the public.

Locating art in unexpected places in the public domain suggests new models of community art that are different from major institutions and galleries. Committed to art as a positive component for community and cultural development, No Longer Empty conducts outreach into the community to contribute meaningfully and bolster the local businesses through the increased flow of visitors that these exhibitions attract and by arranging programs such as panel discussions, music and performance evenings, children’s workshops, artist conversations and more.

Murals

Coney Island Murals by No Longer Empty. April 14, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

These exhibitions could not have happened without the vacant spaces being generously donated rent-free by the landlords. The exhibitions and art chosen or created are site specific in the sense that they reflect such issues as the former use or history of the site, the nature of the neighborhood and, of course, the specific features of the space. Both established and emerging artists have been selected for the exhibitions, benefiting our audiences with rich variety and discovery.

In regard to reflecting such issues as the former use or history of the site, there may be some ghosts that need to be appeased. ATZ recommends that NLE and the artists view historian Charles Denson’s video tribute to the Henderson Theater, the recently demolished vaudeville house that occupied the site for a century. How about a visual “tip of the hat” to Harpo Marx, who made his stage debut here as one of “The Four Nightingales” with his brothers Groucho, Lou and Gummo?

Murals

Coney Island Murals by No Longer Empty. April 14, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

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January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

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