Street art, by definition, is temporary. Something left exposed to the elements will deteriorate over time, obscuring once clean lines and dulling once vibrant colors. When you come across murals you love, it can be sad to see them fade as the seasons pass. But that reality is made better by another aspect of street art – what is old will soon be replaced by something new, and your process of artistic discovery begins again.
Such is the case with the Welling Court Mural Project, in Astoria, Queens. In January, I wrote this post about the murals at Welling Court. Most of the murals featured in that earlier post were painted in June 2015. In the past several weeks, Welling Court has become been renewed once again, as artists from around the world descended on the neighborhood to repaint most of the area’s many murals. (I’ve never counted, but I’ve seen estimates that Welling Court has as many as 150 murals!)
Wanting to catch as many artists in action as possible, I made multiple trips to Welling Court in June. And I was in luck! The Welling Court Mural Project hosted its annual block party on June 12, and many artists were painting in the week prior to and after the block party. I returned to the neighborhood again several days later to capture photos of the finished murals as well.
Part of what makes the Welling Court Mural Project so interesting is that you never know what you will see next. The neighborhood has streets that come together at odd angles, and as you turn the corner and look down the next block there may be another four, six, or even more murals. Don’t forget to look up – sometimes there are smaller pieces high above the streets. Glance into alleys and small parking lots; check the sides of buildings as well. Your diligence will be rewarded with artwork a less discerning eye will not discover.
A wide variety of artistic styles and genres are represented at Welling Court. Some work seems more like fine art, while other pieces draw on the gritty, graffiti-inspired form that traces its roots to New York City’s street scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Most artists create their murals using spray paint and exterior house paint, but there are some fine examples of wheatpaste (artwork painted on heavy paper and adhered to the walls with a flour-based glue), ceramic tiles, and other media as well.
If you wish to explore the Welling Court Mural Project, you can take the N or Q train to the 30th Avenue Station in Astoria, Queens. From the train station, walk northwest on 30th Avenue (the cross streets will get smaller as you go). When you have walked about 10 minutes, you will start seeing murals. The more you walk around the neighborhood, the more murals you will discover!
(I have so many more photos than what I’ve included in this blog – I will be adding them to my Instagram gallery (@findingnyc1) as I have time, so be sure to check it out if you are interested in street art.