Living in Brooklyn, I have become accustomed to the fascinating world of street art. Whether there is a mural down an ally way or graffiti in a train station wall, the world of street art is very alive and thriving in Brooklyn. Taking the train is an everyday occasion for most New-Yorkers. Entering the train station is like entering a different world, you are faced with hundreds of scribbles, stencils, sprayed paintings, mosaic and murals. Since there is an over-saturation of art most of us have become desensitized to street art; it is so prevalent in subway stations. However, this mural was different; one day leaving the Sheepshead Bay train station I was faced with this huge mural tucked under the platform. It spanned nearly a block and was richly colored. Ironically I had never seen it.
Titled: “Sheepshead Bay’s Historic Future,” the mural depicts what Faith Palmer-Persen (the artist) once believed would become of Sheepshead Bay in its later years. This mural was painted in 1994 over twenty years ago, because of this we can now look back and compare her predictions to the reality of what Sheepshead Bay became. The idea of looking back and comparing is fascination because although sheepshead bay is still quite beautiful, it is very different to what Palmer-Persen painted. Of course there are still the staples like the pier and restaurants, but most of the restaurants shown have closed, and the pier is not as vibrant in color or atmosphere. Too add, Palmer-Persen’s mural showcases a very family oriented, “green”, Sanfranciso-esque, plant abundant area, but today Sheepshead Bay is very industrialized and architecturally modern. Instead of bicycles there is a disproportionally high number of cars, there are also barely no plants in comparison to the painting. On a different note, I really enjoy the way Palmer-Persen painted the people and more specifically their clothing. The clothing defines the time period the mural was painted in; with the high-waisted shorts, funky patterns and oversized tees it is hard to deny this was painted in the 90’s.
Street art is a difficult form of art to wrap your head around. The concept of street art is mind-blowing because the artist has spent hours, days or week painting something that most likely will not be maintained or cared for properly. This makes street art even more desirable, appealing and beautiful. You do not want to miss the chance of seeing a piece before it is covered or damaged; this art is temporary, yet so beautiful. Faith Palmer-Persen’s mural is meticulously executed, each brush stroke works to add texture to hair or water. This gives the painting such a realistic effect. This painting does not look like a typical mural you’d see on the streets, it is realistic and looks as though it should be placed in a museum. Moreover, after twenty-two years this mural is still extremely vibrant. There are minimal chips in the paint, this seems to also reflect the vibrancy the neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay has maintained.
The placement of an art piece can expose multiple meanings behind said piece. This piece unlike the train tracks shown in the painting is placed under a dark platform. The juxtaposition of the darkness of the surrounding area and the brightness of the paining helps the art pop off the wall. This painting also works as a symbol for the neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, just as the painting is a hidden gem so is Sheepshead Bay. Lastly, this year marks the fifth year anniversary of Faith Palmer-Persen. Palmer-Persen was able to contribute such a wonderful piece of art to this neighborhood. I would suggest everyone go see this mural and reflect on what Palmer-Persen believed Sheepshead Bay would become and what it is today.