Crown Heights

Crown Heights art gallery FiveMyles rescues sidewalk with art

December 16, 2015 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Enrique Figueredo working on his wood carving. Photos courtesy of FiveMyles Art Gallery
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Every New Yorker is all too familiar with the off-colored monstrous plywood construction walls that sharply abut into the city’s sidewalks, causing pedestrians to blindly meander through a maze of walkways.

The FiveMyles art gallery in Crown Heights, however, has come up with an innovative way to make these eyesores significantly less awful — and even beautiful.

Since July, the gallery has turned a 500-foot-long green plywood construction wall adjacent to its building into a large public outdoor rotating exhibition space, and plans to utilize the space this way until the planned eight-story, 172-unit building is completed in 2017.

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The cultural events planner and programs manager at the gallery, Marine Cornuet, told the Brooklyn Eagle that “the city’s aesthetics are currently dominated by innumerable green plywood construction walls that protect the gentrification and developments going up everywhere; and nowhere more so than in Brooklyn.

“We are hoping to inspire other art venues to view these endless, underused walls as an opportunity to expose the work of many more artists than their indoor spaces can accommodate, and to thereby to turn the entire city into a delightful art exhibition space,” Cornuet explained.

In order to receive approval for the exhibition, FiveMyles reached out to Councilmember Laurie Cumbo (Crown Heights-Bedford-Stuyvesant) who subsequently put the gallery in contact with the developer, who agreed to support the project.  

The Crown Heights community has welcomed the project with open arms.

“The reaction from our community has been one of grateful appreciation for turning an eyesore, a source of pedestrian’s annoyance and a dismal stretch of sidewalk into something of interest and to be enjoyed,” Cornuet said.  “What interested us in the first place was that the murals were rotating, so it’s an excitement every time we [feature] a new artist, and for people who live around [here], they can see something different every month.”

According to Cornuet, the criteria for a specific exhibition to be featured is simple.

“We try to choose work that’s easy for people to interact with or that’s very direct or mysterious, intriguing and attractive,” she said.  

When asked for a specific exhibition that stood out, Cornuet didn’t have to think.

“The one exhibition that’s the most incredible and one that’s still up is Enrique Figueredo’s project. He’s an artist and a woodcarver, and he bought these three panels and painted them green, exactly like the plywood on the fence. He hand-carved this amazing landscape with two characters on both sides, and they’re opening a door, and there’s a little window and you can see inside of the construction site at the same time. It looks incredible.

“People stop and they look, and you can touch it. It’s very delicate work and really beautiful.”  

To visit the FiveMyles exhibition, take the 2, 3, 4 or 5 trains to Franklin Avenue and walk five minutes northwest to 558 Saint Johns Place.

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