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Fun For All! Murals, block party on Dean Street follow formula of art masking gentrification, project impact

From Pacific Park Brooklyn
Around the time the developers of Pacific Park Brooklyn pitched the press--first, a New York Times exclusive, then a general release--on a mural project for the huge encroaching wall for Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, Bucky Turco of Animal New York published an astute analysis of how art has been used in projects like the Coney Island Walls and the Domino Sugar Factory.

Though Turco did not mention Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in NYC Real Estate: Where The Worlds of Gentrification and Urban Art Collide, his analysis was spot on:
Savvy developers know that urban art can cheaply provide great cover for development projects not supported by the local community and artists voluntarily work for little or no pay and don’t worry too much about the moral implications of these types of collaborations. Instead of battling it out with vociferous area residents or hiring a PR firm, there’s a much simpler strategy:
1) Donate the disputed space to artists, most of whom won’t even ask for payment.
2) Frame the giving of the space an act of philanthropy and mention how the developer is committed to the art community.
3) Come up with a hashtag and throw a big party with free drinks.
4) Sit back and enjoy the glowing reviews on social media by fans either unaware or unconcerned with the IRL implications of said project.
A Perry-created map
Well, I suspect the artists in this case will be paid, as there's so much money to sluice around.

But this project is, of course, being pitched as an act of generosity and art.

Yes, there's a hashtag--#pacificparkarts--and there will be a party.

And surely many will appreciate the art and--just like most of the press--not notice how, as neighbor Peter Krashes wrote, it "won't address the safety issues and inconvenience the fence creates."

What they won't say
Surely, however political the art may get--maybe something on climate change?--it won't address the project itself.

Remember, as Turco wrote, the uber-political Kara Walker, whose freighted sugar sculpture got people talking at the Domino project, told Animal “I don’t have a position on gentrification necessarily.” Of course not.

Does lead artist Mike Perry, who lives in Crown Heights, have a position? Well, a press release in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle quotes him:
“Brooklyn’s artists have inspired legions of followers with their singular, relentless commitment to innovation and creative integrity,” said Perry. “This project will both inspire and inform artists, art lovers, Brooklyn-philes and pop culture enthusiasts of all stripes.”
Indeed, the whimsical, playful poster top right, and the map above right distract from the joltingly aggressive scale of the project, as shown in the model at left shown to Chinese investors.

And of course they won't try to analyze the not-so-affordable subsidized housing.

The official notice

From the Pacific Park Brooklyn/Arts page, headlined 10 Murals: One Day:
Mike Perry, self-created GIF
Join Greenland Forest City Partners, multimedia artist Mike Perry and ten of Brooklyn's visionary artists as they embark on creating 10 colorful murals in one day and celebrate Pacific Park Arts.
Artist-in-chief Mike Perry, along with these 10 celebrated local artists, will transform an 820-foot construction fence on Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues into works of art, enlivening the neighborhood with their creativity. Each of the artists will be at the site, creating his or her own original work.
The installation is part of a larger block party that will include activities and food provided by community partners.
The event is free and open to the public.
Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt
August 15th
Follow the artists' progress on social media: #pacificparkarts.
Here's more from Perry's web site, including the GIF (cute? insufferable?) he created.

From the press materials

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle article contained quotes from the developers:
“We felt there was no better way to showcase the talent of local artists than to invite the entire community to watch them create and enliven this pocket of Brooklyn with their creativity,” said David Berliner, chief operating officer of Forest City Ratner Companies.
“As progress continues on our project, Mike and other local artists will bring neighbors and community members together to celebrate the best of Brooklyn’s unparalleled and dynamic cultural offerings,” added Ifei Chang of Greenland Forest City Partners.
It also described Perry:
Perry, who will lead the delegation of artists, is known for his colorful illustrations that open Comedy Central’s hit television show “Broad City.” His work is lively and intricate, known for its boldness and color and has been featured in various books, magazines, films and newspapers including GQ, The Guardian, The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.
Patch, in Artists Plan to Cover Brooklyn Construction Fence in 850 Feet of Murals, gave way too much agency to the artists, who didn't plan a thing. The article noted all the giveaways:
  • Complimentary scoops of Ample Hills Creamery ice cream sponsored by TerraCRG
  • A Do-It-Yourself Photo Booth run by Dean Street Studios
  • A fitness clinic featuring a family-friendly circuit course challenge out on Dean Street hosted by Sevenbell Fitness
  • Beautiful sculptures at Soapbox Gallery, a venue that provides a forum for visual artists to engage in the issues of our time
  • Summer snacks and drinks from Woodwork
  • Summer specialties from Bar Chuko
  • A drinks special at neighborhood bar and restaurant Dean Street
  • Wine tasting at organic wine shop Passage de la Fleur
  • Hotdogs from Caldwell’s Franks Links and Drinks
  • Grilled Cheese from Morris
  • An open house of Brooklyn Metal Works and a demo of its work
  • Double Dutch jump rope demos by Clinton Hill team the Jammin Jumpers
  • An enrollment drive for “Operation ID” bike crime prevention registry run by the 78th Precinct, which will provide community resources and information about public safety initiatives and the well-regarded Explorers program
  • A children’s activity station where children can paint the two-dimensional map of Brooklyn designed by Mike Perry
  • A DEP “Water on the Go” Station
(Note that Caldwell's Franks is the business run by James Caldwell, formerly of Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatory BUILD.)

There's no mention of participation by the Dean Street Block Association, however.

DNAinfo headlined its article 'Broad City' Illustrator to Lead Mural Project at Atlantic Yards Site.


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