Imagining Public History: “Time Flies” in Bushwick

Yesterday, my first post on ArtCal–an exciting new web art ‘zine–went live!

In it, I explore a new mural in Bushwick that recounts the history of the Brooklyn neighborhood through the eyes of local students. Check out the full article on the ArtCal site, but get a taste from the excerpt below.


A few weeks ago a new mural entitled, “Time Flies: A History of Bushwick” was unveiled at the corner of Woodbine and Knickerbocker in the heart of Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. The 400-foot painting wraps around a corner and gives the site a warm inviting presence that most street corners in the area lack.Created by artists and students from the Academy of Urban Planning, El Puente Academy, and Groundswell Community Mural Project, the mammoth project was under the direction of muralist Joe Matunis and continues a tradition that has long been a Bushwick tradition — community murals.

In 1992, an earlier mural stood at this otherwise quiet corner and symptomatic of the time, it confronted issues of drugs, crime and social justice–which grappled this community.

Fast forward to 2007 and Bushwick has changed from the front lines of the city’s drug wars to the next up-and-coming neighborhood. While the new wave of highly-educated hipsters homestead in this north Brooklyn neighborhood, “Time Flies” is one of the first public efforts by the predominantly black and Hispanic citizens of Bushwick to articulate their own thoughts about the neighborhood’s future.

If the 1992 mural looked directly at hip-hop culture for its stylistic sources, “Time Flies” presents a more unified artistic sensibility and concise narrative (probably the gift of having the very talented Matunis at the helm). The painting seems to draw its cues from the origin of the muralist movement itself, namely the Mexican muralists of the early 20th century.

Link to the full article on ArtCal

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