By Mark Hallum
The Welling Court Mural Project kicked off its ninth year in an ongoing effort to beautify the mostly industrial community centered around 12th Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria.
Each year artists turn out to paint over a mural, usually their own, from the year before and start again with a new image, sometimes politically charged and other times an expression of the artist’s own identity.
Sneha Shrestha traveled from Boston, Mass., with brushes and paint to show her Nepali pride and pay homage to Queens as well.
“I think it’s kind of cool to paint here in this quiet part of New York,” said Shrestha, who came from Nepal in 2006 for college and has been doing murals for about seven years. “My little brother, he’s moving here…it’s a new beginning for him.”
Shrestha’s mural depicted the word “Queens” in English surrounded in a rectangle formation with the word “Imagine” in Nepali lettering. While many muralists are graffiti artists and use spray paint, Shrestha finds using brushes allows her to accentuate the beauty of Nepali lettering, which is at heart of her artistic style.
Joel Bergner teamed up with two other artists from Brooklyn, Chris Soria and Marc Evan, to create one of the larger murals, which features a baby floating through space, reaching with one arm out to a lion and surrounded by glyph-like designs.
“The three of us have all had babies in the past nine months, and so we wanted to do something alluding to children,” Bergner said, explaining how the mural had a sci-fi theme compared to previous projects they have worked on, such as underwater worlds and dancers on land.
Other murals featured Parkland high school shooting survivors, now themselves activists, and one wall from last year depicting President Donald Trump as female with a queen’s crown has been adjusted to have an alien’s face instead.
The Welling Court Mural Project has been underway since 2009, when community members sought help beautifying the pocket in Astoria.
Bushwick gallery Ad Hoc Art was asked to assist in the effort and came up with a plan headed by the founder of the gallery, Garrison Buxton.
The first mural went up in December of that year and came back with a bang, followed by 40 murals, in May 2010.
All forms of media got into the act, as Sold Magazine recorded episodes of its podcast in the middle of it all and spoke with well-known muralist Michel Velt.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall