Public Art

Transform & restore: brownsville

Launched with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town Initiative, Transform/Restore: Brownsville was a two-year participatory public art project focused on the transformation of vandalized Pitkin Avenue walls into painted murals by young adults on probation. The initiative resulted in the creation of five murals on Pitkin Avenue buildings. The walls were generously donated by Pitkin Avenue businesses and property owners.

The Wall of Reflect

1478 Pitkin Avenue

This mural in particular utilized the tradition of the People’s Art practice through extensive interviews, youth-led design, and community painting days. The mural challenges the division of “high” and “low” art by using the template of a salon to paint Brownsville residents. Brightly colored designs span the length of the wall like wallpaper, incorporating elements of ironwork fence designs from around the neighborhood. Throughout, styled frames are painted to highlight portraits of Brownsville residents, created by Lead Artist Crystal Bruno, Assistant Artist Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, the youth participants, and Brownsville volunteers

The Women of Brownsville: Telling Our Story

1522 Pitkin Avenue

The artist team behind this project, consisting of only women, explored the hidden treasures of Brownsville’s industrious women leaders through “The Women of Brownsville: Telling Our Story.” To create this message, the youth women participated in an intensive artistic training, presented with the support of the New York City Council through its STARS Citywide Girls Initiative.

 Hidden Treasures of Brownsville

1747 Pitkin Avenue

Inspired by the theme of hidden treasures, nine young people worked with Groundswell artists to complete an intensive mural research and design process, which included a field trip to the Brooklyn Museum. Through this process, the youth artists discovered one of the most important assets within the community – themselves. The resulting artwork invites other neighborhood young people and residents to discover new connections with one another as they celebrate the talents and treasures hidden in their own hearts and minds.

It’s Not a Dream if You Will It

62 Herzl Street

Installed on Herzl Street, “It’s Not A Dream If You Will It” is inspired by Theodore Herzl’s famous quote – “If you will it, it is no dream” – and encourages psychological transformation within the participants and the viewers. As the third mural to be unveiled in the Transform/Restore: Brownsville series, the subject of the piece supports the transformation of the narrative of Brownsville through public art.

 Brownsville Moving Forward

1788 Pitkin Avenue

Created by 17 young adult artists and 2 professional artists, this mural helps to create an inviting gateway at the east end of the Pitkin Avenue BID. The text-based image captures the cross-sector dynamism present within the neighborhood and reads “Brownsville Moving Forward.” Important community figures are highlighted throughout the mural, including renowned activist and educator Rosetta “Mother” Gaston, who founded local hidden treasure Heritage House, housed on the second floor of the Stone Avenue Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.