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Posts from the "Street Art" Category

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Cartoon Tuesday: Paint the Pavement… on the Elevated Highway

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This project takes the spirit of intersection repair to new heights. You're looking at the Elevado Costa e Silva, a two-mile stretch of 1970s-vintage elevated highway in the middle of gridlocked Sao Paulo, Brazil. It's known informally as the minhocão ("giant worm"), and according to local blog Inside Sao Paulo, a project to remove the structure is on hold despite some form of support from the City Council. For now, the minhocão is closed to traffic on Sundays, when it opens to the public for ciclovia-style recreation.

About a week ago, local artist Felipe Morozini organized this massive pavement-painting endeavor, covering a swath of the minhocão with 75 enormous flowers (more pictures here). Unlike your usual pavement paintings and intersection repairs, which calm traffic by adding a layer of intrigue to existing spaces, the Sao Paulo paintjob feels like an assertion of what else could spring to life if the highway disappeared.

So, who wants to lay down a work of art on the Sheridan Expressway?

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Saturday: Paint the Pavement With Brooklyn Students

intersection_repair_13.jpgLaying down a fresh coat on Portland's Sunnyside Piazza.
If you're in Fort Greene tomorrow, drop by 51 St. Edwards Street for some great Livable Streets action. Students from the Community Roots Charter School will be out in the street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., working on a new mural covering the pavement in front of their school, and volunteers are welcome to join in. The mural painting is the joint handiwork of DOT's Urban Art Program, Livable Streets Education, and local artists and teachers. Sound unusual? It is. We're told this may be the first time NYCDOT has ever approved a pavement painting project.

While DOT isn't calling the mural a street reclamation, the spirit is similar to Portland's "intersection repair" and Ocean City's "traffic safety quilt". Those projects created can't-miss signs for drivers to slow down and look out for people. And is there anywhere in New York City that could use some eye-popping, windshield-piercing street art more than school zones? Let's hope that tomorrow's pavement painting is the first of many.

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Streetfilms Inspires New Jersey “Traffic Safety Quilt”

Check out this livable streets story from Ocean City, New Jersey, where a local arts group, high school art students, and the police department teamed up for a street mural installation. The kicker: the project was inspired by Streetfilms (look for the shout-out at the 4:30 mark).

Ocean City Mayor Sal Perillo says the benefits are threefold: the mural has spurred community involvement, improved neighborhood aesthetics, and will ideally serve as a traffic-calming device along a designated bike route. Depending on community reaction, Perillo says, other intersections could get the same treatment.

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Cartoon Tuesday: On-Street Edition

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This intriguing bit of street art is the work of Peter Gibson, a.k.a. "Roadsworth", who's been painting Montreal streets, sidewalks, and public spaces since 2001. He's motivated by "a desire for more bike paths in the city and a questioning of 'car culture' in general," according to the design blog Toxel, where you can catch more of his pieces.

Here's how Roadsworth describes his inspiration in his artist's statement, which is a pretty good read:

The ubiquitousness of the asphalt road and the utilitarian sterility of the "language" of road markings provided fertile ground for a form of subversion that I found irresistible. I was provoked by a desire to jolt the driver from his impassive and linear gaze and give the more slow-moving pedestrian pause for reflection.

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City Promises $5M in Ped Safety Improvements at Mural Opening


The mother and grandfather of James Rice.

With weeping family members and the ghostly, smiling images of three boys watching over them, city officials and elected representatives joined 100 community members on a Brooklyn street corner Tuesday evening to pledge "Not one more death."

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State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assembly member Joan Millman and representatives from the Department of Transportation, NYPD and the Brooklyn District Attorney's joined members of Transportation Alternatives and the Groundswell Community Mural Project for the emotional unveiling of the three-story tall painting at the northwest corner of Butler Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn.


Created by a group of local teens in a summer-long collaboration with professional artists Christopher Cardinale and Nicole Schulman, the mural depicts fifth-graders Victor Flores and Juan Estrada and 4-year-old James Rice holding traffic signs designed to remind drivers motoring along dangerous Third Avenue that pedestrians, cyclists and drivers share New York City streets. The silhouette of a fourth figure, a girl, holds a stop sign that reads, "Not one more death."

Flores and Estrada were killed at Third Ave. and 9th St. in 2004. Four-year-old James Rice was run over by the driver of a Hummer just a block away from the site of the mural earlier this year. 

Read more...
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Brooklyn Traffic Calming Mural Unveiled

Groundswell Community Mural Project and Transportation Alternatives unveiled a mural yesterday evening at Third Avenue and Butler Street in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood. Conceived by local youth and facilitated by artists Christopher Cardinale and Nicole Schulman, the ghostly, three-story tall painting pays tribute to three young boys; Victor Flores, Juan Estrada, James Rice, and the 28 pedestrians killed by cars on Third and Fourth Avenues between 1995 and 2007.

It was a pretty powerful and emotional event. We've got more photos and coverage on the way.

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A Brooklyn Parking Lot Becomes a Neighborhood “Living Room”

Paint a Parking Lot, Put Up a Paradise
A StreetFilm by Nick Whitaker
Running time: 2:45

StreetFilms has some excellent video coverage of the Dept. of Transportation's launch of its Public Plaza Initiative in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood last week. The before-and-after images are particularly compelling.

What once nothing more than a parking lot and illegal dump has become a green oasis complete with chairs, tables, umbrellas and sculptures by local artists. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan calls the space, "a new living room for the neighborhood."

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Tonight: Traffic-Calming Mural Preview & Fundraiser

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In the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, a group of teenagers is transforming a drab, cinder block wall into a three-story mural to memorialize three children killed on dangerous Third Avenue and to remind motorists to drive safely. The mural is being organized by Transportation Alternatives and Groundswell Community Mural Project and painted under the guidance of acclaimed social activist artists Christopher Cardinale and Nicole Schulman.

mural6.jpg The mural is located just a block away from where 4-year-old James Rice was run over and killed in February by Ken Williams, the driver of a General Motors Hummer. Rice was killed while crossing the street in the crosswalk, with the light, holding the hand of his 18-year-old aunt. Williams, like most killer drivers who don't happen to be drunk, was let go by police with nothing more than a "failure to yield" summons. After the deaths of two young boys at Third Avenue and 9th Street in 2004, the Dept. of Transportation promised $4 million worth of pedestrian safety fixes for Third Avenue. Those improvements never materialized.

The unveiling of the mural will coincide with an on-street guerilla traffic-calming project being organized by Visual Resistance, the makers of New York City's "ghost bikes."

This evening, T.A. is hosting a sneak preview and fundraiser for the mural project. Here are the details:

6-8pm, Monday, August 13th

6pm: Mural preview at the corner of 3rd Ave & Butler St
7pm: Refreshments at Sheep Station, 4th Ave & Douglass St
Brooklyn, New York

Suggested donation: $50.

Please RSVP to Brooke DuBose at ped [at] transalt [dot] org.


Artist and youth organizer Christopher Cardinale takes a look at the Third Ave. mural design.

"People have always lived on streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met, the social centers of towns and cities, the rallying points for revolts, the scenes of repression... The street has always been the scene of this conflict, between living and access, between resident and traveler, between street life and the threat of death." --Donald Appleyard

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Kids Demand Respect in the Streets of Brooklyn

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A rendering of a mural proposed for Butler St. and Third Ave., one block from the Brooklyn intersection where a 4-year-old boy was killed by the driver of a Hummer in February.

"A lot of drivers are driving recklessly and not seeing people as people," said 18-year-old Mike. He was one of a group of young people who unveiled the design for a memorial mural dedicated to children killed by cars on Third and Fourth avenues in Brooklyn yesterday at the offices of Groundswell, a community mural-making organization.

The mural's design (above), which has yet to be finalized, shows a smiling little boy modeled on four-year-old James Rice, who lost his life when struck by a Hummer in February. James was crossing with the light in the crosswalk at Third Ave. and Baltic St. with his aunt. The driver received only a ticket for failure to yield.

The finished mural, whose location is still to be determined, will likely include images of Juan Estrada and Victor Flores, who were killed by a truck at Third Ave. and Ninth St. in 2004. At the end of August, the unveiling of the mural will coincide with an on-street, community-based traffic-calming installation designed by the youth group in collaboration with Visual Resistance.


Takeria Cummings describes the mural at the Groundswell offices yesterday.

The group will also release a sticker designed by the teenagers in collaboration with artists from Groundswell and representatives of Transportation Alternatives. Based on a West African symbol, it shows cars, bikes and pedestrians on the street together, with the word "Respect." People will be encouraged to sign a pledge to use streets responsibly, then given stickers to put on their backpacks, bikes and cars.

Several of the kids working on the project said that participation in the seven-week project, part of the city's summer youth employment program, had radically changed their awareness of street safety. "I never knew kids were being killed by Hummers," said Mike. "There's never enough coverage of this kind of thing on the news."

Eighteen-year-old Takeria Cummings agreed, and said she hoped the project would raise awareness. "Drivers don't see where they're going," she said. "A lot of kids are getting killed. We need to live together peacefully."

Photos above: Aaron Naparstek. More photos from M>K>F here on Flickr.

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Reverse Graffiti

Who is the big bad graffito -- all of those automobile tailpipes or the guy scrubbing soot off the wall of this tunnel in Sao Paulo? A Streetsblog tipster sends along news about a cool new urban art form:

A number of street artists around the world have taken to expressing themselves through an innovative practice known as Reverse Graffiti. Taking a cue from the "Wash Me" messages scrawled on the back of delivery trucks, they seek out soot covered surfaces and inscribe them with images, tags, and even advertising slogans using scrub brushes, scrapers and pressure hoses.

Brazilian Alexandre Orion, turned one of Sao Paolo's transport tunnels into a stunning mural last summer. The mural, comprised of a series of skulls, very succinctly reminds drivers of the impact their emissions are having on the planet.

The authorities were miffed but could find nothing to charge him with. They had no other recourse but to clean the tunnel - but only the parts Alexandre had already cleaned. The artist merely continued his campaign on the other side of traffic. The utterly flummoxed city officials then decided to take drastic action. Not only did they clean the entire tunnel but also every other tunnel in Sao Paulo.