By Mark Hallum
Artist Tarsila Schubert and non-profit organization 501 See Streets completed a mural project beneath an Amtrak railroad overpass in Astoria on Friday, and the design is a nod to the immigrant community in the neighborhood. Located on 48th street and 25th Avenue and stretching about 70 feet in length, the mural comes with the support of the residents and community leaders.
“These walls have been tagged, they looked very unpleasant. So I wanted to do something positive, uplifting, bright, colorful to change them and make the residents of Astoria smile,” Noah Sheroff, Executive Director for 501 See Streets, said. According to Sheroff, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) sponsored the new mural, along with another project which went in at an earlier time across the street. Each mural cost around $3,000.
Schubert is a Brazilian-born street artist based in Dubai who takes part in projects aimed at beautification of public space. She began her trade in the streets of Sao Paulo seven years ago, and has lived in the United Arab Emirates for four of those years. Schubert’s style consists of incorporating forms found in nature with cultural symbols. Greek, Roman and Arabic lettering were used in the mural to represent the immigrant communities of Astoria.
Dubai, much like Queens, has a large immigrant community, something Schubert understands well as the daughter of an Italian immigrant. Schubert has also worked to improve public space in Lebanon affected by warfare.
The mural opposite to Schubert’s features the Jackson Hole Diner, the Hell Gate Bridge and a scene from ‘30s Astoria. This is the work of Kenji Takabayashi.
Sheroff’s organization is responsible for funding and finding talent for mural projects across the city, two of which were recently painted beneath a LIRR overpass near Forest Hills Stadium which depict tennis legends who have played there along with the Ramones, Forest Hills natives.
“The planning stage is like the Smiths’ song, ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.’ Then finishing up it’s like ‘Ante Up’ by MOP,” Sheroff said. “It’s such a good feeling to actually complete it and knowing that this is for the betterment of the community, especially when people are so complimentary.”
Sheroff is constantly raising funds for new projects through the 501 See Streets website and has plans for another mural in Astoria near Schubert’s.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall