Neighborhood art improves eyesore

“Democracy Now!,” with the Statue of Liberty below in tears, was one of many themes the mural includes. Other themese include Peace on Earth, the need for environmentally sound vegetable gardens and solar panels, and of course pride in Throggs Neck. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

While the Throggs Neck street may be changing with the construction of four, three-family homes, a construction fence has become a temporary canvas of sorts for neighborhood artists.

Replete with visual images of local sights such as the Throgs Neck Bridge, Marina del Rey’s former party boat, and the local skate park in M.S. 101’s schoolyard, the mural is a true neighborhood project.

A woman residing across the street from the fence, who wishes only to be identified as Colleen, started the art work, located on the corner of Hollywood Avenue and Milton Place. Teenagers, as well as adults, joined her in making the 20-plus-panel long construction fence a work of art for the community to enjoy.

“I was sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee one morning and looked out on the empty boards that already had been tagged by graffiti artists when I decided to paint the mural,” Colleen said. “I paint all of the time for my own enjoyment, and as time went on people who saw me painting would stop and ask if they could add to the mural.”

Eventually, she said she had a group of neighborhood teenagers, some responsible for the graffiti vandalism in the area, help her create something the neighborhood would find pleasing.

“Even young people who do graffiti would stop and ask if they could add to the mural, which is why there are kids with Ecko t-shirts and skateboards,” Colleen said. “When I painted the cars and motorcycles going over the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone bridges, the kids who sometimes do graffiti really got into it.”

Colleen said that far from what many believe, the young people of Throggs Neck really are proud of what they consider to be their hometown. The mother of two feels that artwork on sites prone to vandalism would be helpful in building community spirit for those caught painting tags.

“The young people who live here love their neighborhood, and I think art projects like this would have a positive impact on them,” she said. “Everybody was really happy with the mural, and I didn’t get any negative feedback at all.”

Jennifer Hordines, who lives across the street from the mural and who helped paint clouds, waves, and birds with her boyfriend Michael McFarlane, said that the artwork is uniting the neighborhood.

“The mural was a great thing to be involved in and provided positive reinforcement for many neighborhood kids who unfortunately would be hanging out nearby and – I hate to say it – drinking,” Hordines said. “Instead of hanging out on the corner, they worked to create something colorful to look at.”

More from Around NYC