Anyone who has found themselves near the corner of Avenue H and Nostrand Avenue within the past few months may have been surprised by the presence of a few new residents.
This larger than life mural, taking up three panels of wall on the side of the Nostrand Express Deli, is a recent addition to the intersection. Painted in early February of 2017, the art piece has transformed a plain brick wall into an eye- catching masterpiece. The work was created by Ashley Simone- McKenzie, an NYU graduate and the “brainchild” of the art production brand Alboe Art. Alboe defines itself as a multi- faceted brand which attempts to “merge art and culture” in unconventional ways, in “spaces for social interaction”.
With Ashley Simone and her brand’s most widely known projects being public murals, they are doing just that. Unlike many pieces of art which utilize graffiti technique, the mural on Avenue H was created completely legally, with full support from Nostrand Express, the business on which it is painted. As intriguing as the illegality of many public art pieces may seem, this lack of consent can often draw away from the “community feel” of a piece. The fact that Nostrand Express, a longtime haunt of locals and students alike, approved and even encouraged Simone’s work of art only amplifies its value. The mural was painted on behalf of an entire community- not rushed at midnight, in an act of rebellion or individual interest.
The mural has been painted in deep, bold colors- dark teal, red, white and black. The dramatic yet hard lines reflect neatly the urban chaos of its setting. So close to the busy Flatbush Avenue and the ever bustling Brooklyn College, there is no romanticization to the piece. It appears almost maze like, depicting black and white tubes overlapping with small windows and peering faces. What look like subway cars have also been abstractly depicted in the mural, along with the wide eyes of their consequent passengers.
Simone has created a work which is meant to last. It is a bold depiction of the world which every New Yorker knows so well: concrete, chaotic, and occasionally very dark. These qualities are definitive, and for better or worse, will not be leaving the city anytime soon. It is the faces in the mural, however, which lend it a subtle sense of endearment. Somehow, it feels familiar. In just one mural, Simone has managed to capture the essence of New York City- all while giving commuters a visual break from the mundanities of urban life. Alboe is reinstalling a sense of inclusion into the world of art one piece at a time- and we hope that this is only the beginning.