The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Don't Shoot

The way you read this may say something about where you're coming from. Curious what y'all think. This went up last night:


The Q rode by while the artist (yes, artist) was making this. Also yes, it was commissioned by The Sneaker King folk, landlord approved. Jenny Ulloa, a mother and resident of Patio Gardens, came up with the idea of putting up some art on the metal gate at 556 Flatbush and she used her vast databank of artist friends to curate artist Russel Murphy, seen here doing the do. Nothing Banksy about it; he was quick to tell the Q his name and Jenny chimed right in. But, the story doesn't end there.

Turns out Russell has already flirted with infamy. A picture taken by photographer Moe Gelber went viral, and the artist known as CASH4 became better known for his girlfriend than for his art. Live by the sword, die by the sword - make public art, deal with public art. But I feel for the guy. Cuz he's no one-hit wonder. So I'm posting some of his other work rather than regurgitate his most well-known pic that he didn't even make - though it's ridiculously romantic, and what's not romantic about making art? By the way, his arrest was due to an unapproved use of public property as canvas, and he ultimately plead guilty to sullying our fair City. More to the point, what he DID get was a cute girlfriend, a brush with immortality, and a chance to deliver a killer serve in the zeitgeist dialectic of the PL&G. So...who's first to strike back?










42 comments:

jessica said...

I have no problem with it as long as you don't call it "art". And as long as I don't have to look at it every day. Oh wait... I do.

From a pure aesthetic standpoint it's just really, really ugly.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Seriously? I think it looks amazing. And I love urban art. It's one of the things that makes NYC NYC!

How can you not call art art? I mean, it's paint. It's colors. It was requested by the owners of the store and gate. I mean, seriously, if that ain't art my name's not Q.

Perhaps what you MEANT to say was that you don't like that piece?

K said...

Love the idea of local businesses using original art. Support the idea of political statement art, as long as the property owner is cool with it. Really dislike this painting.

Everyone's a critic, I know. I just think it's a rather glib way to be politically relevant. It might as well have a hashtag. And the way this art project was first presented on the PLG Facebook group, it was supposed to be a word or phrase that described the neighborhood. Probably no word or phrase would have made everyone happy, but this seems like low-hanging fruit to me.

Banksy, this is not. (Permission-wise or sophistication-wise.) If Sneaker King is happy with what they commissioned, great. But as someone who will be walking past this every day, I just wish it were a more interesting and complex piece of public art, and more reflective of PLG's character.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I can't believe I'm gonna jump in, but here goes...

There are three utterly fascinating ways to read the phrase Don't Shoot. I love bouncing back and forth between them and imagining different people, at different times, dealing with it differently.

Look at it in person. It's terrific, bleeding paint and everything.

Low-hanging? Maybe. But where else is it happening? Maybe all over, I don't know, I don't get around much anymore. But this is a great spot for it. What, you're gonna do it in Chelsea? Central Brooklyn is perhaps the most relevant place for this in the country. Plus it's super heavy traffic, in a neighborhood that includes people who will read this the way they read it. Brilliant.

My advice...if you don't like it, don't look. That's what I do when I see someone urinating between cars. Personally, this is the kind of shit that got me stoked when I moved here. If I wanted Iowa, I'd have stayed in Iowa. Doesn't ANYone remember the brilliance of the Lower East Side in its heyday? I mean, this is a distant reminiscence, but I'll take it over dirty, rusty metal any day.

ElizabethC said...

Love public art, don't like this. I just find it very uncreative. Tomato, Tomahto.

Anonymous said...

Just gonna go ahead and say it though... White dude painting "don't shoot" on side of building in gentrifying BK. This is like, height of, I dunno, something. Surely this man is saying it on behalf of the folks most likely to be shot (probably not him, by the looks of his sweet arrest photo)... I'm not trying to take it there, but there it is.

Anyhow, there's plenty of room below the piece, maybe Sneaker Kings can recruit a few local artists of color to add to it? Maybe he did that on purpose.

jessica said...

Sure, but this ain't the brilliance of the Lower East Side by a long shot. I'm not saying art's got to be pretty, or that it's got to be creative, or that it's got to get a rise out of people, but for me to call something art it's got to do at least one of those things. This to me is just... uncreative uninspired and unattractive. A sadly missed opportunity.

K said...

CF: I get what you're saying about how "Don't Shoot" means different things to different people. And I like the rawness of a lot of urban art too. I'm merely underwhelmed by this particular piece. Clearly you (and surely plenty of others) don't agree, so I probably won't be appointed the official neighborhood art critic anytime soon. :)

Just one PLGer's opinion. I don't think it should be censored or taken down, and it doesn't enrage me when I walk by. I just find it kind of disappointing and lacking in creativity. PLG is yet another urban neighborhood struggling with gun violence, got it. What does this slogan add to that conversation?

But it's getting attention, which is obviously the point of the whole shebang. Wherever the public opinion goes on this specific piece, I hope it all leads to more artists getting chances to create public art in our neck of the woods. Plenty of ugly metal gates just waiting for some (non-rust) color!

Anonymous said...

Mad cool sh#t, but that ain't nothing compared to the beats dropped by our Male District Leader.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk91gxJKzgY See 1:53 & 2:37.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-oWZTOQDJ0 See 5:25.


roxv said...

uncreative, ugly, and could have been mass produced and slapped in any urban neighborhood for all the skill and originality it took. And this coming from someone who is very much in support of graffiti art and yes, thinks this is art. We all gotta acknowledge that there is such a thing as bad art, though, and this one takes the cake.

i do like one thing about it, however--this has inspired me to pursue mural opportunities in the neighborhood myself, if only to detract attention from this schlock

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Okay. Just go easy on the nastiness. The people who are involved live in our neighborhood. If you don't like it, fine. Just don't be too mean. That's MY job after all.

By the way, Jessica, I didn't mean to say the Lower East Side was all brilliant. Just that a walk down the streets meant a lot of exciting stimulation. A lot of it was garbage - literally and figuratively. And a lot of it, near Tomkins and over by ABC No Rio, was about the cops. It was another era but the same old dynamic. Class warfare is alive and well.

The fact that the guy who made this is white? That's part of the fun of considering its merits. It's not worth scrapping the idea as crap just because you think some lily-ass should've kept his paint to himself. Take a broader view and maybe there's all kinds of stuff taking place here, including the bravado of the painter.

To me, that's where art resides. Person makes thing; viewers experience something that doesn't happen in nature alone. Stirs something. Or not. This one works for me, is timely, and I dig the paint. Check it out tonight after they close. Still hate it, I'll get you the artist's email.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Also, if you've ever been violently attacked, white-black-green, I'm sure you can relate to the one part of "Don't Shoot" that EVERYbody gets. That sentiment shouldn't be off-limits to anyone, regardless of race-class.

Anonymous said...

People here aren't being nasty. It's critique and as these are legitimate opinions. If you're an artist you have to have a thick skin and he surely does so you don't need to be his protector. I agree with Jessica and others that it is not art. Was there no other way to show this visually, nothing to say but a loud shouting straightforward text statement? I don't like the bleeding effect of the paint. It is dark and aggressive. You turn away. It doesn't make you stand and gaze at it and think. Lastly, the irony is the only shootout on the corner of Maple and Flatbush the last decade or more was not perpetrated by the police.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

To anyone wondering, and I don't think I'm giving away too much of the identity, RoxV is actually an incredibly talented bold-as-hell artist herself and we'd all be lucky to have her do up a few gates. Maybe now she'll let me do a post on her. Bring it on, RoxV. Light up the Flabenue...

bethfshn said...

I am LOVING the Pearl Paint piece!!!

babs said...

I think that people were primed not to like this piece from the (intentionally?) disingenuous little post in Facebook asking for people to describe their feelings about the neighborhood. The responses were uniformly positive, and then like a bomb she drops the "Don't Shoot" announcement. What? Who said anything about shooting? Other people, apparently, who'd been consulted previously (and were no doubt more informed as to the principal impetus behind the work's creation, which seems to be a sort of PTSD reaction (understandable) to the recent broad daylight gunplay on Bedford Ave.), as well as all of the media accounts the artist had been given beforehand. Otherwise, I'm with you - if you don't like it, don't look, and know that this, too, shall pass (hopefully sooner rather than later in my opinion).

Paul Galloway said...

It's definitely art, but that doesn't mean it's good art.

Paul Galloway said...

And I mean the mural. The paintings are pretty great.

diak said...

Originality of thought or in execution is rewarded in art. So painting a popular slogan about violence in letters that appear to be bleeding just seems very lazy... he'd probably get a C in Graphic Design 101.

Still, unlike 98% of graffiti, at least it says SOMETHING. Something other than "I [tag/glyph/initials] was here and defaced your [wall/storefront/mailbox/overpass] and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it." Maybe that was a provocative artisitic statement for the first handful of writers in the 70s but since then—it's just imitative crap by selfish, talentless morons.

Anonymous said...

Is it a community plea to police officers? To each other? White folks finger wagging at black kids? Black folks finger wagging at black kids? All folks finger wagging at all kids? So many questions.

Bob Marvin said...

I don't understand the negativity about this mural (mostly on the PLG & Bklyn Friends Facebook page). The mural was obviously intended to stimulate discussion, which it's done. I've been a PLG-booster for MANY years and generally prefer positive publicity, but the "Don't Shoot" text is an obvious reference to an important national topic and, while it can be read many ways, isn't a necessarily negative statement about our neighborhood.

Do I like this mural as much as the ones I was project director for with PLG Arts? Not really, but that doesn't make it bad art by any means.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon 10:42. You forgot a great one...P.O.'s telling the folks hanging around an arrest not to shoot pictures.

Bob Marvin said...

The obvious answer to ALL of Anon. 4:42's questions about this mural is "yes" which is what I like most about the piece.

Anonymous said...

We aren't being down on the neighborhood or unsympathetic about the subject matter if we don't like the art. That's obvious in the comments here. And obvious in general.

babs said...

Bob, see my post above. I think that's what really set people off - they were expecting something completely different, based on the tone of the initial inquiry on FB. It didn't help that the organizer (Jenny Ulloa) then went uncharacteristically ballistic and started violently and really inappropriately insulting anyone who'd had the temerity to say anything bad about the piece. Artists are usually used to criticism (and I doubt CASH4 is losing any sleep over anyone's comments), Ms. Ulloa apparently not so much.

Anonymous said...

My vote = missed opportunity, could've done something more creative. However, it is stirring the conversation pot, which is good.

Anonymous said...

The real reason your regulars (Babs, Jessica, et al) hate this is because they don't want to be reminded of what the rest of us have to face every damn day: police violence.

That's "divisive," or whatever, right?

jenny said...

great post! thank you! if anyone is interested in russell's artwork, let me know. :)

Anonymous said...

3:58 clearly knows neither Jessica or Babs. Hearing the organizer insulted neighbors who didn't like it, that loses me right there. I've had enough of that in this neighborhood, seriously. People who get all MTOPP on their neighbors cease to exist to me.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I don't think it matters a hoot whether this is good or bad art from an aesthetic perspective. It's hardly the point. You don't spray paint "Don't Shoot" in giant letters and expect people to say "i love your subtle use of blah blah blah." There's nothing subtle or particularly accomplished about the graffiti, and that's clearly intentional. CASH4 chooses words and images that fit a story and you could go and argue that it's purely youthful hubris or whatever and I'd get bored really fast.

Where I'm not getting bored is listening to everyone (myself included) play their parts to a T. Enraged, offended, frustrated, energized, disappointed...

One thread though that strikes me is the extraordinary ability of people to suspend reality and pretend that we - not just the neighborhood, but the whole country - haven't reached a point of supreme crisis. As the rich tower over us all, pulling the levers of power and devouring more money than God could have dreamt up, we're frightened of losing what little turf we have and allowing Law and Order take care of the mess of the underclass by any means necessary. It's easy to forget that the police are us. In this country, they're supposed to serve and protect, but always with the Constitution as a guide. That isn't happening, clearly.

I've lived here long enough to remember at least two, sometimes five, chilling shootings on the Flabenue each year, often right around the very spot of this gate. Granted, it was WAY worse just a decade before I got here in 2003, but it was WAY worse all over. Bushwick? Craaaazy crime. This graffiti stirs people out of their dream that it will all just go away - the menacing, the uncivilized behavior, the fear that's either real and not. If this "piece" were hanging on a wall in a gallery the aesthetic arguments might resonate to me. But not here.

It's also making painfully clear what most of us know but rarely acknowledge. That white people can safely walk in and out of these neighborhoods or conversations without the very real fear of being taken down unjustly for looking at someone the wrong way. Remember how you felt when OJ got off? Are you black, or are you white? Almost the exact same number of whites (72%) felt he was guilty as blacks (71%) felt he was innocent. In more recent shootings and killings, similarly different opinions exist for whether victims were "asking for it" or were framed or lied about. Planting evidence and guns is real, and it doesn't have to happen often for you to assume it happens all the time. Do you, white person, have any serious concern that guns or contraband might be placed on you so you can take a fall and save a crime?

Watch Central Park Five if you haven't already. I think it's worth remembering whoever you are you're stuck in your ideology, and even a brash painting has trouble wedging it out of our skulls. The whole white City was prepared to lynch those kids. That is NOT an exaggeration. I was here. It was surreal. And that tribal mentality is still at play, no matter how far past it we think our society has reached.

Not all of that has anything to do with Murphy's spraypaint. But I'll be damned if it didn't snap me out of my own warped ideology for long enough to recognize how screwed up we ALL are on this. It leaves no one untouched.

Bob Marvin said...

"get all MTOPP on…."

A new PLG (or Lefferts, if you prefer) phrase.

babs said...

Sorry Anon 3:58, I never said I hated the piece. I'm pretty indifferent to it in fact. As I've said again and again I found the way it was presented as an art project about the neighborhood to be deceptive and the organizer's reaction to peoples' expressions of disappointment to be extremely unwarranted. To violently personally attack someone for expressing an opinion about a work of art (or not) is ridiculous. And the mural's creation, by the organizer's own account, was sparked not by police violence, but by civilian shootouts in the area, although it was also certainly informed by those events as well. As such, I'd say the work is about much more than just this neighborhood. Gun violence is a huge problem all over the country, and in many places, much more so than here in PLG. A mural that was truly about this neighborhood would have been different.

roxv said...

of course i think it matters whether it's good art. good art does not simply mean "it's pretty." good art means the message is communicated effectively. i don't think this is.

and for the record i make art for a living. it's the only thing i know how to do, and my only means of survival. of course it's important.

roxv said...

also, i think the reason a lot of other people are upset (not me--i didn't participate in the conversation until i saw it made and felt it was weak) is because jenny came to the FB group and asked for their input. this gave a false illusion that the artist actually cared what the residents had to say, or that it would be some sort of a community effort. me, i wouldn't have said a damn word. i make enough art that has to be approved by committee on a daily basis; it's exhausting

MikeF said...

Are you aware that "soliciting input" is often merely a form of advertising?

Ditto with crown funding websites: The goal is often free advertising, as opposed to actual donations.

T. Christopher Weidner said...

Don't like the art. Agree that its low hanging fruit, but its the sneaker shop, so it works.

jessica said...

What RoxV said. "Good art means the message is communicated effectively". This is not good art. I kind of think of this as a first try/study towards something better. This is the sketch you make before doing 30 more sketches, long before you put paint to metal.

However I am gonna be fair and say this now meets one of my qualifications for art: getting a rise out of people. But I do think for the wrong reasons. (BTW I have not seen the Facebook post, I'm just commenting purely on seeing the mural)

I have no problem with the message. My critique is with the execution.

You want to see a successful piece of art that speaks about police violence, look at images of Sophia Dawson's mural at Ideal Glass ("Every Mother's Son"). That to me is a well thought out and well executed piece of art.

Anonymous said...

re: the facebook discussion that is referenced here, the woman helping the artist absolutely did not attack the neighbors for their art critiques. In reality, a neighbor who apparently owns her home here, called her a liar for saying she hears guns shots, and a bad mother for saying she is a mother who worries about guns, in an open thread (I know, sounds crazy, right?) and that personal mean stuff was mingled into a thread about not liking the art. It was all Lord of the Flies. I don't blame the woman who helped the artist for anything she said after that, coming from a place of being hurt by some low blows - if you poke anyone in the eye with a stick enough at some point they will poke back in defense too. EVERYONE needs to back off. I have the perception that the neighbors who said awful things about Jenny were defending their material interests as home owners in having the neighborhood be perceived as safe; whereas, Jenny was defending against personal attacks and being called ridiculous things. It isn't the same. Geesh.

ElizabethC said...

Wow, I saw that discussion unfold and it was a bit different than how it was described above. I will say that some people seem a bit too willing to get personal, and that was coming from diff directions. Can we just move on?

cheryl on parkside ave said...

I am the neighbor who called out Jenny for saying she 'heard gun shots on a regular basis, and a mother to a 10 year old son'.. I took offense to her saying that. I also aid if she had made that statement 10 years ago I would probably agree with her. I also said if the community is so dangerous why would she continue living in a community that could bring harm to her son. Now your reference to me been a homeowner. Yes I am a homeowner, a home I acquired by working dam hard. It was not given to me as a gift. I do not live under a rock. I also said there is violence all over New York City streets and that doesn't mean I'm making excuses for any incidents of violence in PLG. So I'm pretending PLG is safe and defending my material interest as per your post. You don't know me, stop making generalizations about me. If you want to defend Jenny, go ahead, that's your right. Jenny defended herself on the Facebook page already.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Sounds like an all-too-typical online argument gone awry to me. One of the things you don't get online is an opportunity to judge what mindset someone is at when they go ballistic. One could be having a bad day, be distracted, be drunk...you just don't know. I'll bet it never would've happened in person.

Think I know of what I speak? hah! I've been involved in too many overheated back-and-forths to mention. As someone who doesn't tend to hold resentments, I feel okay about pretty much everyone after a few hours. Even NoSlappz, who continues to send me his particular warped take on the neighborhood. He's like the white version of Kasa. I choose not to share it, because so much of it is inflammatory. But he's pretty much the only one I censor on a regular basis. If someone accuses someone of something I sometimes check its accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would add some significance to the art to know that Sneaker King's storefront was smashed in a drive by shooting a few years ago.