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Bushwick: History in the Making

- upfromflames - Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 : goo

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Unless you are an artist, its a difficult thing to capture the creative process as it is happening. Well now, here is your chance!

If you can make it to Bushwick, Brooklyn, this summer, you can capture the creative process unfurled across 400 feet of concrete wall, at the corner of Knickerbocker and Woodbine. That's where this work takes shape every weekday.

I think its best to let the design team have the words, so I've just illustrated with my own photos. I'll try to keep up with the work as it proceeds over the next month. Hope you can see it, too!

image 21931

"Bushwick: Past, Present and Future", (working title), is a 400 foot long community mural designed by students at the Academy for Urban Planning in Bushwick, Brooklyn during the spring of 2007.

image 21939

The mural will be painted this summer, by 5 community muralists and a team of 20 community youth, (including students from the design team from AUP and El Puente). The wall is located on Woodbine and Knickerbocker streets in Bushwick.

image 21930

Joe Matunis, from Los Muralistas de El Puente, lead the design group in investigations into the the history, current concerns, and hopes for the future for the community of Bushwick.

image 21932

The wall is designed to be read chronologically from right to left. We decided on this format so that the "future" part of the mural would be closest to the Bushwick High School campus, emphasizing the importance of education in building a better future.

The "past" section of the mural begins in 1904, the year Bushwick high school is built. Images in this section include references to the German immigrants who built and worked in breweries, the later arrival of Latino and African Americans to the community and the fires that devastated Bushwick in 1977 (this part is not on the wall yet)

image 21938

As the past fades into the "present" we see a revitalized community facing new challenges, including gentrification, poor housing conditions and environmental issues.

image 21934

In the middle of this section, and at the point where the Woodbine St and Knickerbocker Ave. walls meet, there is a large image of 2 birds swirling together, holding an egg between them. This image is derived from the African Sankofa bird that symbolizes the necessity of knowing the past in building a strong future.

image 21935

We also see a strong community celebrating its cultures with family and friends, united to face the challenges and make a better future. A young man passes through a doorway from the present into the "future" where more birds travel, carrying the lessons and knowledge of past generations.

image 21936

A young man and woman use an enormous pencil, (symbolizing knowledge and creativity), to break apart large brick structures that symbolize both the polluting, industrialized past, and Bushwick's former identity as a "well" of drugs.

image 21933

image 21937

In the background is a representation of the Bushwick HS Campus building in the future, complete with solar panels, a green roof and wind turbines. A large hand casts out symbols representing the accumulated knowledge of the worlds' cultures, that collectively will build a sustainable and just future for all.

This article has been viewed 30258 times in the last 7 years

upfromflames: 18th Jul 2007 - 21:56 GMT

If you need directions:,+Brooklyn,+NY&sll=40.686365,-73.981328&sspn=0.007306,0.014462&ie=UTF8&ll=40.696778,-73.913355&spn=0.007305,0.014462&z=16&iwloc=addr&om=1

jack: 19th Jul 2007 - 14:20 GMT

really great pictures, im impressed at the work going on there, im proud of those young men and women with good hearts and a driving spirit to better their community. i prefer seeing real art instead of junk graf. some graf is artistic, some are junk, same as in life.

jack: 19th Jul 2007 - 14:21 GMT

and yes, i know exactly where that neighborhood is because i ran around there in the 60's.

Meryl: 19th Jul 2007 - 15:00 GMT

Nice Adam.

Good wishes with the walking tour this Saturday!!! I'm upstate but "with you".

sandoval: 19th Jul 2007 - 19:33 GMT

I was just there today it was amazing to see the representation of the community on those walls.

Howard Levy: 19th Jul 2007 - 22:28 GMT

Amazing work - a wonderful process of discovery for the students and a brilliant gift for the community.

CartLegger: 25th Jul 2007 - 00:18 GMT

image 22075

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Tonytech: 25th Jul 2007 - 16:27 GMT

I never thought I would see the day, when positive beautiful colors would grace the walls were I played softball as a teenager in the 70's.
To see today’s youth caring about something other than themselves warms my hart.
And the mural is nice too.

Alfred: 28th Jul 2007 - 13:57 GMT

Thanks for your help painting earlier this week. Nice photos so far. Do you think you will be uploading some newer images?
See you soon!

CartLegger: 31st Jul 2007 - 11:34 GMT

image 22186

image 22188

image 22189

image 22187

Bushwicker: 1st Aug 2007 - 04:56 GMT

If you haven't already, definitely show your love and support for the artists from El Puente and the Academy for Urban Planning.
The NYC Parks Department tried to shut the mural down today (Tues, 7/31) because it was "too political"!!! I think the project survived the blatant agenda pushing and attack on free speech, but go by there and show your support anyway!

upfromflames: 1st Aug 2007 - 11:43 GMT

Rumours travel quick. Truth travels slower. Come out to Bushwick, and see the truth for yourself, painted on the wall.

Yes, there was a problem. But all was quickly settled, as a misunderstanding.

No on is going to stop the Bushwick mural.

I was there, I followed what happened, and saw how it concluded yesteday afternoon. I want to say how inpsiring the youth team were in forgoing their pay if necessary to make this political statement. Just glad they did not have to.

Thanks again to team leader Joe Matunis and the Parks Dept. for working everything out so sqiftly.

upfromflames: 1st Aug 2007 - 13:57 GMT

Rumours travel quickly. Truth travels slower.

Yes, there was a problem. But all was a misunderstanding, and settled by the end of the day.

No one is going to stop the Bushwick mural. Come on out and see it for yourself, history moving forward each day on the wall.

I was there, I followed what happened, and saw how it concluded.

I want to say how inpsiring the youth team were in forgoing their pay if necessary to make this political statement. Just glad they did not have to do so.

Thanks again to team leader Joe Matunis and Brooklyn Parks Dept. commissioner Julius Spiegel for working everything out so swiftly.

image 22276
Team meeting for mural 7/31

image 22274

image 22275

image 22277

image 22278

Luis Acevedo: 4th Aug 2007 - 00:42 GMT

My wife and I along with our 4 kids live around the corner on Palmetto and Irving. We love that mural. My kids can't get enogh of it. You guys did an awesome job. That stetch of Knickerbocker ave brings back memories. The sidewalk on Knickerbocker between madison and woodbine had a thick ashphalt line between the sidewalk sections and my sisters and I used to walk the whole block one foot in front of the other on top of that line. Only small sections remain.

upfromflames: 17th Aug 2007 - 21:32 GMT

image 22874

The last strokes on the Bushwick High Mural went up today. I felt lucky to see them go on the wall.

image 22869

Afterwards, Unue, Al, Joe, Rolando, and Crystal--the lead artists--posed in front of their creation.

image 22872

image 22873

image 22870

image 22871

I captured a few others close ups, but really, the scale is such that you have to see it your self. So do!

image 22875

upfromflames: 17th Aug 2007 - 21:42 GMT

image 22876

And finally, thanks for all your hard work, planners, leaders, student artists. It was great to see this come together, in your minds, on the wall, and in our community.

leeann singh: 3rd Dec 2007 - 15:40 GMT

this painting was best i have ever seen...they did a wonderful job
-leeann singh

Neidine: 17th Dec 2007 - 03:30 GMT

This is a beautiful creation. We need to see more of the arts in our neighborhoods. It is so bland and lonely. Adults just like children love to see illustrations. People should really appreciate art. It expresses so many wonderful things. You guys have done an exceptional job. I enjoy driving by and passing this mural on my way home. Continue the great work. Thank you for giving the neighborhood a facelift.

Lillian: 5th Jan 2008 - 02:03 GMT

What a beautiful gift for all to behold. Thank you! [from a '68 Bushwick High School grad.]

Sally: 13th Feb 2008 - 02:51 GMT

they're great I live near this beautiful images I even saw when they were painting this images.They really rock with this images.They seem to be profesional.

JoAnn 2/26/08: 27th Feb 2008 - 19:45 GMT

I grew up in 1252 Madison Street, married by boyfriend (who lived down the block)lots of years later. I went to Bushwich High School for 1 year than dad died and Mom and I moved to the "country" Valley Stream. Years later we took our children to the "old neighborhood" and they were so frightened they had nightmares for weeks after that. It hurt me to see my old home place in such a terrible condition. But recently I was having a conversation about the old neighborhood and I was told it was really on the up swing and had wonderful things happening in it. So I decided to go to the Internet and I'm so happy to see all the beautiful art work that those people have put up for others to appreciate. All I can say to all of you is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I am once again proud to say I come from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

lisa: 5th Mar 2008 - 23:56 GMT

i currently go 2 the buskwick campus and were now doing a mural inside of our school and this mural on our school wall gives us advice and inspiration......GOOD JOBS YOUTHS

Marisol F.: 4th May 2008 - 02:05 GMT

Awesome piece, I graduated from Bushwick HS in 1983 and let me tell you those cement plain walls never looked so BEAUTIFUL, Kudos to the artist and the mentors who guided this project!! EXCELLENT, keep up the great work and god bless.

Josselyn K: 19th May 2008 - 12:25 GMT

I really love this mural it looks beautiful when kids get involved in these master pieces.

Sal S. May 19 2008: 19th May 2008 - 19:13 GMT


Nice work. Good to see your work after too many years. Give me a call if you are ever back in Chicago - sal

Kathy Mondello: 20th May 2008 - 13:58 GMT

It's so great to see that there are caring people living in this neighborhood. I have nothing but fond memories of growing up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn - having graduated from Bushwick High School in 1960. I'm currently one of the Vice Presidents of the Bushwick High School Alumni Association, where we have an approximate total of 1200 members - from all graduating years. We all take/took pride in our neighborhood and I'm so happy to see that this pride has continued.

cheryl forte 22nd May 2008: 23rd May 2008 - 04:36 GMT

I lived across the street from this beautiful mural at 299 Woodbine Street between Irving and Knickerbocker left there in 1960...does anyone have address doesn't exist anymore.

Laura E. Ramos: 26th May 2008 - 23:48 GMT

Looking for information of Bushwick High School I came to this page, it gave me such a flashback of where I came from, this mural is beautiful, great job guys, I didn't graduate from Bushwick but was there my tenth and eleventh grade and consider it my high school. I moved to Puerto Rico on my last year summer of 76 I will never forget the best times I had were there. Thanks for this page.

Danny Fresh: 25th Jun 2008 - 18:21 GMT

i pass by there all da time on my way to graham wit my pops...good job guys

nancye: 23rd Aug 2008 - 16:37 GMT

all i can say is WOW best of everything I remember when Bushwick was burning and no one cared It's great to see things have changed. Ke
ep up your work and hold your dreams

anon ( 9th Sep 2008 - 07:06 GMT

it looks great ill have to come and see it all on my next trip back to Brooklyn were i was born and raised Now living in Ft.Lauderdale,Florida

Jay: 30th Sep 2008 - 17:01 GMT

I attend the highschool and ill tell you this Mural was a great Job . and much to mention we even got some tourist Pass by and Stop to see the whole Mural.. we Got FANS!!

maurilio tendilla: 16th Nov 2008 - 10:03 GMT

damn joe how come you didnt call me for this mural. i want to paint so badly. the mural looks great, great images, how about giving your old muralista a call for the next one. class 2003

Ivonne: I Love Diz Mural Diz Be My School Class of 08

Brian Sanchez: 17th Jun 2009 - 12:54 GMT

Hey I'm a Native Loisadia, 25 yrs old, and I moved into Kosciusko st and Bushwick 2 yrs ago.
Great Job on the Art work and meaning of it. I'm an art major myself from CUNY. Keep up the good work and spread the art.

Brian S.

Lila Vincent: 10th Jul 2009 - 04:34 GMT

Does anybody know what happened to the mural painted in ythe Assembly Hall at Bushwick High School in about 1924 by Charles Basing, the man who did the mural on the ceiling of the Concourse at Grand Central Station. Charles Basing was my great great uncle, I live in Australia, and I have been told by the Principal at BSSJ that it no longer exists in the school, does anybody have a photo of the mural, or an image that I could obtain for my grandchildren.

anon ( 11th Apr 2010 - 21:53 GMT

Looking at Bushwick now and it looks like crape. I can't believe how it got ruined, Back when I grew up in the 50s and 60s it was great,Now it looks like gangsta ville, Too bad the good old days are gone forever, The new geberation has screwed it up.

CartLegger: 12th Apr 2010 - 11:21 GMT

"the good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems"
thanks Billy Joel, you are so helpful!

will griffin: 11th May 2010 - 22:56 GMT


anon ( 20th May 2010 - 12:10 GMT


mary cummings-green: 21st Jul 2010 - 21:18 GMT

i went to bushwick high school from 1966-1969 when i graduated. it is so nice to see that people still care about the school, it holds so many memories for all of us who have since gone on. Thank All Of You For This beautiful wall.

Lovelyy: Beautiful .. I Love You Bushwick!

Diana R.: 28th Sep 2012 - 02:38 GMT

Beautiful wall, brings a huge smile to my face. I graduated from Bushwick H.S. in '79' and now live in Florida for the past 16 yrs...I still love and miss Brookyn.

Bb2ru: 18th Nov 2012 - 16:56 GMT

Awesome painting, outstanding talent!!! I played ball in that park, hung out with the guys, graduated from Bushwick in "76" miss the old neighborhood. played softball with a local team called "The Sharks", the team was put together by a kid who used to live on Jefferson Ave between Knick and Irving by the name of Macho. Great times.

Bb2ru: 21st Dec 2012 - 11:25 GMT

I'm trying to locate a girl who used to go by the name of "Candy" her real name is Christina Payne, used to hang around Broadway and Myrtle Aves in the 70's, had a baby girl who she never met. Her duaghter is trying to locate her mom.Thanks

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