Mural in Park Slope Brooklyn

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Date: 1999 - 2000

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Painting


Artist: The nine teenage girls from the local Center for Anti-Violence Education who painted a mural on Fifth Avenue and 10th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Confronting Bodies: Rite Aid drugstore; some residents in Park Slope, Brooklyn; New York City Councilman Angel Rodriguez

Dates of Action: 1999 - 2000

Location: Fifth Avenue and 10th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York USA

Description of Artwork: The mural in question was painted by nine teenage girls from the local Center for Anti-Violence Education. The 85 foot long and 16 foot high mural depicts images including blue-skinned people, a pregnant man, hypodermic needles and a wolf with blood dripping from its mouth.

The Incident: The mural ignited a neighborhood controversy after it appeared outside a Rite Aid drugstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn in September of 1999. Some local residents objected to the mural saying it depicted violent images that were not representative of their neighborhood. In March of 2000, City Councilman Angel Rodriguez, who had been mediating negotiations between the mural’s supporters and opponents, backed Rite Aid's decision to erase the colorful--some say lurid--mural from its outer wall. Ethan Saffer, who represented Rite Aid in the negotiations over the mural, said: “The unfortunate impending outcome is the probable covering up of the mural. We would have liked to see a compromise, a few changes to the images.” Annie Ellman, the executive director at the Center for Anti-Violence Education said that while at one point the artists had considered making small changes, they ultimately decided to keep it as is. “It’s a piece of artwork,” she said. “We have to uphold its integrity, even if it gets whitewashed”.

Results of Incident: After the decision by Rite Aid to whitewash the mural, nearly 100 supporters of the mural gathered on March 17, 2000 in front of the drugstore chanting “Save our mural”. A few feet from the protest, a small group of opponents stood by a sign reading “Good Neighbors Compromise.” One opponent, Theresa Hammel, whose family owns the house adjacent to the mural, said she did not feel comfortable walking her children by the controversial images that she considered violent. Ultimately, despite protest, the mural was painted over.

Source: New York Times archives