Art brings to life concrete barrier along street safety path

By Juan Soto

A passerby simply admired the barrier as it was being painted and said “thank you.”

Andrea Duarte pointed out “just for that, it’s nice to be here.”

Duarte, a college student at Baruch, was one of the 18 volunteers painting a mural along a pedestrian walkway at the intersection of 69th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

She and the others were helping Greek artist Eirini Linardaki paint her “Composition in blue, yellow and red, homage to Piet Mondrian” in a 150-feet concrete barrier as part of the city’s Department of Transportation’s Barrier Beautification program.

“We try to grab people’s attention by doing this kind of work in public spaces,” said Linardaki. “For artists, getting neglected public spaces is like getting a new canvas.”

The idea behind the DOT’s program is to transform concrete barriers from traffic safety measures into “extraordinary canvases for art.”

Linardaki said that her work is inspired by Mondrian, a Dutch painter who was part of the so-called De Stijl movement, or neoplasticism.

“The idea is to see how randomness is used in the process of making art,” explained Linardaki, as the volunteers were given form to her art piece. “The colors and the patterns create rhythm.”

Armed with seven gallons of paint, gloves and paintbrushes, the group finished the task in a day.

“It draws people’s attention,” said the artist, who worked on similar projects in, among others places, Paris. “We want art to be accessible for everyone,” she said.

The art program was put into place by DOT in 2008, and so far, about 100 urban art projects have been created. In addition to the Barrier Beautification program track, the others are Arterventions, Community Commissions and Site to Site.

Linaraki said “Composition in blue, yellow and red, homage to Piet Mondrian” acts as an illustration of the game, a colorful abstraction.

It resembles the traditional kids’ pick-up sticks, a game of physical and metal skills. The aim is to pick up the most blue, yellow and red sticks that are randomly distributed.

The art lovers who gave life to the mural were part of New York Cares, the largest nonprofit volunteer organization.

As part of its Barrier Beautification, DOT has painted over 23 barriers spanning more than six miles throughout the five boroughs.

“This program caught my eye because I am a creative person,” said Duarte, who is studying entrepreneurship at Baruch College in Manhattan. “I just love being here.”

Reach Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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