BY ROB MACKAY AND ANGELA MATUA
The Welling Court Mural Project will unveil more than 140 murals filled with sophisticated, thought-provoking and visually stunning art on Saturday, June 11, in Astoria.
Part block party, part walking tour of public art projects, the event is scheduled to run from noon to 7 p.m. It’s also a pot-luck picnic, so attendees are asked to bring food and beverages to share.
The murals will be on display in perpetuity after the event, as the overriding goal is to change how people experience and interact with their environment. The epicenter is at 11-98 Welling Ct., between 30th Avenue and 12th Street.
“People literally come from all over the world that are interested in street art and muralism and graffiti to see what’s here because what’s here is one of the best collections in the world,” said Garrison Buxton, executive director of Ad Hoc Art.
The annual tradition dates back to 2009, when Welling Court resident Jonathan Ellis joined forces with Ad Hoc Art, a Bushwick-based think tank dedicated to creative solutions for urban problems. The nonprofit united artists from around to world to create site-specific works in Astoria.
The first unveiling took place in May 2010 with more than 44 murals. Since then, artists of all types join forces every spring to beautify the area, and the numbers keep growing.
This year, displaying muralists include the following: Abe Lincoln Jr., who describes himself as a sculptor, painter and conceptual prankster whose historic moniker was born during a musical performance in which he was shot by a guitarist identified as John Wilkes Booth; Bishop203, who began his career painting abandoned factories in Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Icy & Sot, brothers from Iran who use stencils to depict human rights abuses, ecological injustice and political censorship.
Buxton said the organizers have been approached by companies to brand the project, but Ad Hoc Art has refused.
“We’ve had offers to have it branded and commodified, and we haven’t gone down that road because that’s not our motivation,” he said.
As long as the community wants and supports this project, Buxton will keep inviting artists to beautify Astoria properties.
“The more that art is everywhere, the better it is,” Buxton said. “That’s not my opinion, those are statistically quantifiable things. We love that [the project] grows and we want it to continue to grow here.”