Welling Court Murals Keep Expanding
“This year was an excellent year,” said Garrison Buxton of Ad Hoc Art about the 2012 Welling Court Mural Project. Started in 2010 by Welling Court residents who reached out to Ad Hoc Art Gallery, run by Garrison and Alison Buxton, to help them connect with artists, the project has grown from 30 muralists participating the first year, to 70 in 2012. “Each year,” continued Buxton, “we have received increasing interest and support from the community which takes on many forms, one of them being more walls and surfaces to paint.”
By the time the project culminated on June 16, when the denizens of Welling Court, an outof the-way street in Astoria, celebrated with their (now traditional) block party, 90 individual works of art covered industrial and residential walls around the area. “The reason the numbers grow,” Buxton remarked, “is that the neighborhood supports the artists’ work, and the property owners make their spaces available for the artists...It is a positive, cooperative venture that is a win/win for all parties, as relationships should be.”
Jonathan Ellis, a resident of Welling Court, originally conceived the idea in order to cover, and discourage, gang tagging. He expressed his surprise and delight at how the project has grown, and was particularly thrilled with how the neighborhood children have embraced the art. He spoke of one young boy who, for the block party celebration, had created his own paper sculpture that the artists helped him adhere to a fence, while his sister excitedly ran around getting artists’ signatures on a colorful sign she’d created. Ellis then demonstrated the chalk drawings done by neighbors of all ages, with sidewalk chalk provided especially for the party.
Many people other than artists and neighbors were there enjoying the murals and the party atmosphere on the afternoon of June 16. Folks who had heard of the project on Facebook or by word of mouth dropped by bringing contributions of food and ate with the artists and Welling Court residents, who were barbecuing or laying out spreads of their best dishes from countries as diverse as Greece and Mexico. Buxton shared some of the input from the visitors: “The responses were very beautiful and inspiring,” he said, “ranging from ‘the best outdoor street art festival ever’ to continued, positive encouragement of what it does for the neighborhood, the artists, and creative culture. We are happy to be a part of it and very honored to help bring such wonderful talents together for positive change. We hope this can serve as an example of how communityinitiated cooperative ventures can create very positive change.”
Ellis stated that the murals will remain indefinitely for everyone to enjoy, or at least until next summer when artists converge again, and many of the walls are re-painted with new images. For now, a stroll along 30th Avenue below 14th Street is a good starting point from which to tour the artwork. From there, turn left on 12th Street and go for about half a block, looking to both your left and right. Then, return to 30th Avenue and make a quick left onto Welling Court. There are murals lining both ends of the street, so keep walking until Welling Court runs into Vernon/Main and then turn right - there will be murals on your right. Continue up Main, where many murals line the wall opposite the Two Coves Community Garden, then on to 12th Street, and turn left. Even this route won’t have you taking in every mural in the neighborhood, but it’s a start. Some of the countries represented by the artists are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, England, Germany, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, the U.S. and Venezuela.
Business owners offer their walls for free, and artists paint for free. If you would like to become involved, or would like to donate supplies or other assistance, e-mail Info@AdHocArt.org, or Jon@Ltbprod.com.