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Posts Tagged ‘street art’

Funny Face

Mermaid Avenue Funny Face. June 18, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In Coney Island’s revamped amusement area, hand-painted vernacular signage and public art are rapidly being displaced by custom lighted signs or painted over. Just a few blocks away on Mermaid Avenue, mural painting by local artists is still thriving. Walking from Stillwell Avenue to West 28th Street, ATZ came across work on almost every block, including a Funny Face touting “Parking for Puertoricans Only,” murals memorializing lost friends and a community art project celebrating growth and diversity.

Église  Evangelique Haitienne

Église Evangelique Haitienne, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One block north of Surf Avenue, Mermaid Avenue is the neighborhood’s shopping district, populated with stores, restaurants, churches and community organizations such as Astella Development and South Brooklyn Youth Consortium. As Woody Guthrie famously says in his song “Mermaid’s Avenue” written in 1950: “Mermaid Avenue that’s the street where all colors of goodfolks meet.”

Mural Memorializing Jose Chin, Five Deli Grocery, West 28th Street, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The mural pictured above dedicated to the memory of Jose Chin is painted on a wall outside of Five Deli Grocery on West 28th Street and Mermaid Avenue. Coney Island artist Kwamin Serguson finished it on April 21, 2012, two years after Jose’s passing at age 22, according to an article in Astella Action News. The mural is one of several poignant memorials to lost youth that can be found on the sides of buildings.

Memorial Mural

Memorial Mural at Five Deli Grocery, West 28th Street, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Vision of Growth, created by Groundswell in collaboration with South Brooklyn Youth Consortium, is on West 27th Street at Mermaid Avenue. The 15 by 80 foot acrylic on cinderblock mural features images of Coney Island landmarks and highlights the diversity of the community. The project was part of Groundswell’s 2008 Summer Leadership Institute. “Artists Alex Pimienta and Jessica Poplawski worked with a team of youth to create a colorful mural celebrating the people, changing communities, and future of Coney Island,” says the project description.

Groundswell

Detail of A Vision of Growth: Groundswell in collaboration with South Brooklyn Youth Consortium. Mermaid Ave at W 27th St, Coney Island. Photo by Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The young mural artists from the South Brooklyn Youth Consortium are Mohamed Abdelrahman, Michael Coleman, Shani Coleman, Nicholas Collazo, Ahmathya Edwards, Mashayach Edwards, Michael Ferrera, Angel Garcia, Andrea Gil, Doris Huey, Emily Lew, Carla Pierre Paul and Ken Zheng.

Groundswell

Detail of A Vision of Growth: Groundswell in collaboration with South Brooklyn Youth Consortium. Mermaid Ave at W 27th St, Coney Island. Photo by Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

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

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

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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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Boarding up Building

Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. February 15, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

On Wednesday, workmen drilled holes into the new sidewalk all around Thor Equities sterile-looking new building at Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. When poles were inserted close to the structure, observers wondered if they were going to install a chain link fence. Instead, they began installing unpainted plywood all around the building!

The joke going round is Thor CEO Joe Sitt read the bad reviews of his first-ever new construction in Coney Island and felt so ashamed that he tried to hide it from public view. With no sign of any tenants, Thor probably wants to protect the glass from vandalism and graffiti. Last year’s best was “Blight for Spite” scrawled below Thor Equities name and logo.

As for street art, the blue construction fence with murals painted by No Longer Empty artists Ephameron, Veng, OverUnder and ND’A was removed earlier this month. Some of the art turned up in a jumbled reassemblage at another Thor construction site in Bensonhurst. In the photo below, taken on the Bowery side of the Coney Island building, bits and pieces of Ephameron’s mural can be seen. Thanks to Coney Island photographer Eric Kowalsky for being on the scene and snapping these photos.

More than likely the boards will soon be plastered with the “Stores for Lease” signs that have been a fixture on Thor’s vacant property in Coney Island for the past several years. How about commissioning murals to replace the ones that were chopped up and discarded? The building is the first sight you’ll see when you exit Stillwell Terminal. It occupies the site of the century-old Henderson Music Hall, which Thor Equities demolished in 2010.

Boarded up Building

Thor Equities Newly Boarded Up New Building in Coney Island. February 15, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

February 2, 2012: Thor’s Coney Island: Generic New Building at Surf & Stillwell

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

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

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