Tag Archives: Mural

Jackson Heights student, muralists color LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Edward Fernbach


It has been 22 years since muralists and friends Alex Cook and Pasqualina Azzarello collaborated on a piece, and now with the help of Jackson Heights resident Sunny Hossain, they are adding color to Long Island City.

The artists have come together to replace a fading mural located on a former meatpacking plant located at 46-01 Fifth St. The building is now home to Rockaway Brewing Company, the LIC Community Boathouse and the nonprofit Recycle-A-Bicycle, which provides environmental education and job training through youth education programs.


Photo by Alex Cook

The group not only revamped the mural on 46th Avenue but also stretched it around the corner of the building so that it can been seen down on Fifth Street.


Photo by Pasqualina Azzarello

The original mural was completed in 2006 by Azzarello while she worked with summer youth employment participants as a freelance teaching artist for Recycle-A-Bicycle. However, she always felt the mural needed more.

The Brooklyn resident then went on to become executive director for the nonprofit in 2009 and after leaving in early 2013, she kept the mural on her to-do list as she continues to be involved with Recycle-A-Bicycle.

“For the last number of years, while that mural had become a mini-landmark in the neighborhood, we always had the feeling that it wasn’t as complete as it could be,” said Azzarello. “We wanted to create a new mural that more accurately reflected the new sense of vibrancy in that part of town.”

About two months ago, Cook, who lives in Boston, Mass., reached out to her with interest to work on a collaborative mural in New York and Azzarello contacted Karen Overton, founder of Recycle-A-Bicycle and current executive director, with the idea of revamping the mural.

To Azzarello’s surprise, Overton was also looking to revitalize the mural after being contacted by Edward Fernbach, a teacher at P.S. 993, a District 75 school located within the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria. Fernbach wanted to know if his student Sunny Hossain could help to fix the peeling mural,to receive school credit as part of an internship program. District 75 schools are designed to teach and support students with various learning challenges.

“Sunny happens to be a phenomenal artist and I wanted to emphasize his strength rather than the place he has challenges,” Fernbach said. “He is going to be in the art world, no question about it. He has his foot in the door and he isn’t going to let it close behind him and he is going to keep on going forward.”

This mural project is the first for the 16-year-old, who is a student at P.S. 993. Hossain said he loves to be creative, and working with Azzarello and Cook has helped him develop his artistic skill. He said he felt very proud after seeing the piece come together.


Photo by Edward Fernbach

“We had a lot of fun. I never had an experience like that,” said Hossain, who will next work on a mural at the Broadway branch of the Queens Library in Long Island City. “I never knew I could do so many things with art. It gives me inspiration to continue my art.”

The theme of the colorful and celebratory mural, which took about 10 days spanned over a few weeks to complete, surrounds the “joy of riding a bicycle,” according to Azzarello.

“It has meant so much to Alex and me to support Sunny in this way,” Azzarello said. “We are reminded of how many people supported us as young artists. The fact that we are now in a position in our lives to work together and help support a young artist with incredible talent and vision is very meaningful.”


Sunny Hossain and Alex Cook (Photo by Pasqualina Azzarello)

The brand-new mural will be unveiled at 46-01 Fifth St. on Friday, June 13 at 4 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.

 

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Artist’s plight after cleaning up blight


| ecamhi@queenscourier.com


After textile designer/artist Paola Belotti transformed a graffiti-laden wall in a Maspeth alleyway into a giant Tuscan mural last August, she not only elevated a “wall of shame” to a “wall of fame,” she brought a sense of peace and beauty to many of the local residents.

The mural was born through a happy accident that occurred while at an afternoon barbecue in the alleyway behind Maspeth Wines & Liquors on 69th Street. After learning of her talent, the owner had asked her to simply cover the graffiti behind his store that she noted “looked terrible.” She suggested a mural of Tuscany to reflect the theme of wine.

Through the three weeks it took to complete, the mural unfolded organically – without any sketches.

“It is everything in my mind. I grew up in Italy where I could see vineyards, barrels, lemon trees, wall fountains with lions, bricks and columns,” noted Belloti of her work.

She recalls meeting residents who were curious and joyful at the transformation. She said many commented on how peaceful it made them feel. She also recalls hearing local employees making plans to lunch in the alleyway, so they could enjoy “lunch in Tuscany.”

“With my mural I wanted to give a message of simple beauty and serenity, instead of the screaming graffiti, and I think I achieved that,” she said.

Painting the mural also gave her the “therapy” she needed during a difficult time.

“I was going through all these difficult moments. My Green Card had been denied … I was really struggling.”

The struggle is ongoing for Belotti. After 14 years of being a successful textile designer with a Midtown firm, she is now facing deportation.

Originally from Lake Como, Italy, she was recruited to New York in 1997 under a work visa. When her Green Card was denied at the same time she was laid off in 2010, she knew she was facing deportation. She is now here under a tourist visa and is appealing her Green Card.

Belotti claims her lawyer did not submit a thorough Green Card application back in 2002.

She says she has put thousands of dollars into renewing her visas and believes it would be an “extreme hardship” to start her life and career over again in Italy.

Belotti calls art her “passion” and wants to continue her career in the U.S. because she believes she has “much to offer.”

“I own an an apartment,” she said. “I have my own bank account and no debts.I have always obeyed the law and have paid my taxes diligently from the first day I arrived in the U.S. I was hoping to one day have the privilege of voting.”

Since the mural, Belotti has been commissioned for various paid and unpaid projects, but has yet to find a permanent job.

Although somewhat downtrodden by the struggles, she remains determined.

“At least I can say I tried,” she said. “I will try hard to stay until the last straw.”