America’s fading post-9-11 unity has a new symbol: a soon-to-be-covered-up patriotic mural.
Workers this week began building a brick wall over a two-story American flag that was painted on Sixth Avenue after the 2001 terror attacks, a reminder of how time softens passions and how camaraderie and national sense of purpose has descended into the partisan abyss.
Artist Scott Lobaido — himself a partisan who has painted 50 Old Glories on rooftops in every state — made the mural 10 years ago in tribute to a firefighter friend near Park Place in exchange for a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey.
“I wanted to rekindle the romance of patriotism,” said Lobaido , a staunch conservative famous for a piece that depicts Hillary Clinton and Osama bin Laden teaming up to burn the American flag.
“I love my country because it lets me be the crazy a—hole that I am,” said Lobaido, who, truth be told, doesn’t always allow others the same privilege. In 1999, he joined other protesters demanding that the Brooklyn Museum remove a painting of the Virgin Mary splattered with elephant dung. The painting stayed; Lobaido found other causes.
After 9-11, that meant patriotism.
Passersby could spot his star-spangled statement — along with the words “God Bless FDNY” — on the side of the brick building that houses Pet Boutique & Supply next to a vacant lot.
But a doctor’s office is now starting to sprout in the long-boarded up space next door — an endeavor that will soon completely obstruct the artwork that took Lobaido two days to paint.
The owner of the Park Slope building that features the mural did not return calls seeking comment — but Lobaido pointed out that the new wall will only cover up his art, not destroy it.
“It’ll still be there if the [new] building ever comes down,” he said. “That’s the beauty of patriotism: On some level, it will always be there.”Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cn