The Nostrand Avenue Mural

This painted mural is located on a wall on Nostrand Avenue, across from The Junction, right by the Flatbush Avenue train station. I immediately noticed this when passing by it, its busyness and bright red and blues drawing my attention. Initially, I thought the mural was depicting the busyness and chaos that is public transportation, the haze and confusion that can be related to crowds and traveling. After seeing the “ALBOE” signature and its Instagram tags, I searched it online and discovered that Alboe is an art production practice that creates public art all over, spicing up the normal and dull areas we pass through daily through the merging of art and culture. I scrolled through their other murals, and took another look at the Nostrand Avenue mural and noticed the ways it promotes unofficial and unconventional public art.

I spotted several spray cans with eyes- a seemingly intentional detail which personified them. The spray cans have personalities and distinct actions, they’re seen grabbing trains with their hands, popping out of train windows, and in other places only their bodiless eyes are visible. I think Alboe means to promote a common public art, graffiti. It seems to insinuate the power graffiti has to transform something so dull, like an urban wall, with transportation as its platform. I see the mural portraying this with its primarily black and white background, drawing attention to the brightly colored red and teal trains, a hint to the rich and exciting art that public transportation can harbor. The red and teal contrast each other nicely, they pop out at the viewer boldly against the pattern behind them. The spray can holding the bright colored train seems to hint to its ability to control and captivate the train with its color and artful depictions. Another spray can looks like it’s eating a train, another hint to the captivating and ingestive effect public art can have on a person. The random appearance of empty eyes without spray can bodies seem to suggest the mystery that accompanies graffiti, it’s thrilling and sometimes illegal behavior, the frequently anonymous artists, and the arbitrary timing of new creations. The black and white design swirls evenly throughout the mural, in a snakelike fashion. At a certain point, the design seems to be choking the colored train. This could suggest that street art is often suppressed by the public, not seen as a real art, making it underappreciated. It could also show how this form of art breaks through boundaries, and makes art much more accessible to the general public by its placement on the street.

This large, wall sized mural definitely brightens the block, providing an exciting composition to look at as a passerby, while also provoking the viewer to think about its deeper meaning and appreciate the unofficial art that fills the streets of New York City. It’s accessible, easily seen on the street as its size is the entirety of a market’s wall, and ready to be viewed by the people.

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