Student-painted mural debuts at “Atlantic Avenue Gateway”

September 5, 2013 Heather Chin
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Left foot forward, right leg back, muscles taut, the jogger is suspended in time, her eyes staring straight ahead as she runs towards an unknown destination. Her running shorts are bright red, but the rest of her body shines in various shades of blue—reminding passersby that she is not real, only an excellent painting of one of hundreds of joggers who make their way across Atlantic Avenue down to Brooklyn Bridge Park every day.

The jogger is one of several historical and present-day images that are part of “Moving Along,” the new public mural brightening up the BQE underpass at Atlantic Avenue between Columbia and Hicks Streets.

Designed, researched and painted this summer by 15 Brooklyn teenagers through the Groundswell Summer Leadership Institute, the mural is being welcomed as a “gateway” between the Atlantic Avenue and Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront communities.

“Our mission is to create a vibrant, exciting, thriving boulevard, really, and this—the Atlantic Avenue Gateway, which is what this area is going to be called—is giving our grand boulevard a bold starting place,” said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (AABID).

Sue Wolfe, a local business owner and resident, said the mural is “terrific. We need to make the entrance to the park much more pleasant than just bridge with pigeons underneath it,” she chuckled.

(click to enlarge)

The mural itself incorporates historical elements, such as a horse-drawn carriage, a man on an old-time bike, cobblestone streets, and architectural designs, with the goal of bringing to life the rich history of the area.

“[The mural’s] mission is to promote safe and livable streets and an exchange of pedestrian traffic [while] weaving in everything from the unique architecture in the neighborhood(s) to the resources on Atlantic Avenue and in Brooklyn Bridge Park,” explained Esteban Del Valle, a Brooklyn-based artist who served as lead artist on the project. “A lot of the images are from photos the youth took in the neighborhood and we spoke with business owners for their experience and history.”

“I feel very honored and this is my first mural ever,” said Miyah Harris, from Bushwick. “It’s my first big project [and] that courage is what motivates me. To see so many people inspired—I love this experience.”

The mural is one of four painted through Groundswell this summer in neighborhoods such as Red Hook and Brownsville.


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