Urban Art: A Sea of Symbolism

(Photo above) This is us working on the mural, getting our groove. You can see me back a ways lining up my stencil!

After our awesome hike on Thursday, we had been tasked with painting a mural at a pier that looks like this:

As you can see, the barriers are not the most beautiful things to look at. One of our summer staffers, Nareen, sat down with our director, Carrie, and hashed out a mural scheme and stencil design for our wall of concrete. They decided that the theme would be “Manhattan: What It Used to Look Like,” using native bird silhouettes and grasses, giving the mural a wetland marsh look.

The summer staff primed the barriers the week before we started, so it looked like this:

And then we showed up with some paint and stencils and started plotting. (And by we, I mean Nareen. That girl is good!)

Some of us concentrated more than others (we dubbed this stencil the lurkin’ heron).

Some of us had trouble coloring inside the lines. You can include me in that one, that was NOT my strong point in kindergarten!

The mural really started to come along as Nareen directed us toward a finished product.

We began the touch-ups and detailing towards the end.

And the mural began to look like this:

Eventually, we had a finished product and it looked absolutely wonderful!

That last photo is my favorite one, Pier 54 has been quite stark and wide open for a long time. It has never been much to look at, and was used for our events because of its open structure. When we had to shut off the back half of the pier because it was in danger of collapsing, those barriers became even more evident. Since we had already finished another mural on some other barriers downtown, creating another one seemed like a wonderful idea!

The pop of color is now very evident the moment you step onto the pier, and the biking classes that are held there have mentioned their love for the new art. In a way, the photo above is representative of what I do at Hudson River Park, and what the SCA does. We boldly enter areas that are decrepit, overused, over-loved, and misunderstood, and turn them into something great. A pop of color in a sea of gray! However, that “pop” has been steadily growing into beautiful a canvas, and one day it just may spill over and encompass us all.

Music by The Cyclist