Or perhaps I should say “newish;” I missed an opportunity to document its creation last summer. I did see it in its earliest stages, when I went for a run along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront in mid-July, right at the beginning of one of our heat waves. A group of young people was gathered by one of the long, low-slung buildings along First Avenue, between the south entrance to Bush Terminal Park and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and I stopped to chat with them, because I know how much teenagers enjoy talking with sweaty, middle-aged women. I could see what looked like the beginnings of a mural behind them – splotches of color, sweeping, curved lines, all very abstract – and asked if that’s what it was, and if they part of the crew putting it up. Yes, they told me.
How long to finish a project like that?
Three weeks, more or less.
What a great blog entry this would be, I thought. I could come back, interview some of the artists, and take pictures showing the start, middle, and final stages of the project.
Of course, I didn’t. The week that followed was too hot, or too rainy, or both; then I was too lazy; and then it was too late.
When I finally paid a return visit at the end of August, the mural was finished. “Making the Sun Rise at Sunset,” it was called, and the splotches of color and sweeping lines that I thought were going to be an exercise in abstraction had solidified into a brilliantly-colored depiction of water and wildlife, plants and people, art and work and struggle.
It’s too big to capture in full (I tried). The panel at the top of this post occupies its center. You can find other segments below, moving from left to right, but you’ll have to use your imagination to link them together.
First, though, credit to the lead artist, Raul Ayala, and the crew of youth artists whose collective efforts turned a blank brick wall into something beautiful and meaningful: Brandon Bendter, Benjamin Rosenfeld, Gabriela Balderas, Gabriel Pala, Jacqueline Carrero, Jahlisa Forcheney, Jennifer Contreras, Josiah Vals, Karina Linares, Miyah Allen, Molly Baum, Publio Lantigua, Quincy Washington, Raven Lozada, Shannon Sun, Shania Reid, Vincent Carrasquillo, Yayi Lin and Zhen Lin. The sponsor is Groundswell. (You can see details of another Groundswell community mural, this one celebrating work and workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, here.)
To see the work for yourself, head down to the Sunset Park waterfront – where the glitz of gentrified Industry City gives way to working warehouses and Sanitation Department depots and Lutheran Hospital, between 54th and 56th streets – and feast your eyes.