Bell tattoo parlor inks money for Wounded Warriors

By Juan Soto

One motorcycle helmet has a traditional Japanese mask painted on it offering protection.

Another one has a reddish devil face. And a third one imitates the helmet that appears in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” poster.

These are just some of the custom-painted helmets up for auction on eBay as part of a fund-raising effort by Bayside’s Mean Street Tattoo parlor.

The initiative’s goal is to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that provides programs, services and benefits for wounded war veterans following the 9/11 attacks.

Tommy Murphy, co-owner of the store, pointed out he was interested in cooperating with war veterans and always tried to think of ways to accomplish that objective.

“Veterans need help and we can’t fight,” he said. “We are artists, we have fragile hands.”

So, instead of fighting, Murphy decided to help out the best way he knows, with art.

Now, the 20 custom-painted helmets are up for grabs in a bidding process that ends Feb. 11 at 1 a.m.

“We are just trying to do something good,” Murphy said. He designed two of the helmets available in the auction.

One of them is covered in an American flag with a Purple Heart, the oldest military award given to soldiers wounded “by an instrument of war.”

Murphy noted he spent about 10 hours painting the Purple Heart helmet.

“The designs are outstanding,” said Amado Aracena, a Flushing resident and member of the U.S. Army Reserve who dropped by the gallery. “This is a great opportunity.”

Murphy and his business partner, Johann Florendo, bought the blank 20 helmets for $20 a piece. And that’s the starting bidding price on eBay.

Most of the artists who donated their time and talent to paint the helmets are from New York City, but there was also art that came from Canada and London.

The helmets were on display int the parlor’s window, and many neighbors stopped by to take a look at them.

“It was a big stopper,” Murphy said.

“We will try to get as much money as possible, and all of it will go to the Wounded Warriors,” Murphy pointed out.

The artistic, custom-painted helmets may be also a turning point for the art scene in Bayside.

Murphy and Florendo hope the Wounded Warriors Project benefit “will bring artists together in hopes of organizing three or four art show a year in Bayside.”

Florendo said that “Bayside need more arts and entertainment, and not just bars, restaurants and stores.”

He pointed out the neighborhood has a lot of artistic talent, and maybe one day, Bayside “will become the next Williamsburg or Manhattan.”

Florendo added that he hopes this art show and benefit will get more people involved.

“We will try to bring some of that flavor here, and maybe next time more people will volunteer their time to put up art shows,” Florendo said.

Aracena said he will be bidding on a few of the helmets.

“It’s a way to support the Wounded Warriors and get a nice helmet,” the Flushing resident said.

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

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