A.J. Smart and his fellow firemen came up with the design, Josie Gonzalez Albright grabbed the paint and the Bronx Council on the Arts kicked in the funds.
Gonzalez Albright is transforming the door of Bruckner Boulevard’s 89 Engine firehouse, between Edison and E. Tremont Avenues in Throgg’s Neck. Her mural will feature an American flag and the station’s twin slogans: ‘There is no strength without unity’ and ‘Serving The Neck since 1926.’
A museum educator and professional artist who specializes in public projects, Gonzalez Albright received a grant from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs last spring. She began the mural last month, after consulting with the 89 Engine firemen.
“I’ve wanted to do something for the guys in the firehouse a long time,” Gonzalez Albright said. “They put their lives on the line and are really humble about it. The mural is a way for us in the community to give back, and give the firemen some attention.”
Gonzalez Albright, a Throgg’s Neck resident, proposed a number of projects after receiving the grant this year. She settled on a firehouse mural because Engine 89 was so receptive to the idea.
“I decided to paint what they wanted,” Gonzalez Albright said. “Because it would have personal meaning.”
Smart suggested a coat-of-arms. Gonzalez Albright gridded it out and began work, cautiously. She’ll paint the firehouse’s slogans on ribbons – one above and one below. Gonzalez Albright plans to add a neighborhood motif as well, with the Throgg’s Neck and Bronx Whitestone bridges.
“All the guys had input,” Smart said. “We handed it to the captain and he approved. The firehouse opened in 1926 – that explains our first slogan. We found the ‘strength in unity’ phrase on the Internet. We picked it because we’re a fraternity, and this is a team job.”
Gonzalez Albright’s outdoor mural is beginning to peak Bruckner Boulevard motorists’ curiosity. She hopes to finish soon, before the Bronx fills up with snow.
Gonzalez Albright is splitting time between the firehouse and another project – a 50-foot Jacob’s Place mural. Jacob’s Place is a 63-unit apartment building named for the late Astin Jacobo, a Dominican Republic native and Crotona neighborhood leader. Gonzalez Albright’s indoor piece will tell Jacabo’s life story.
Gonzalez Albright is using acrylic paint on the firehouse door.
“The firemen have been very encouraging,” she said. “They’re proud of what’s going up on the door.”
“It looks great,” he said. “Definitely an eye-catcher.”