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Street (light) art: Quirky banners rise above Park Slope

The Brooklyn Paper
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A prolific Park Slope painter is giving new meaning to the expression “high art” by hanging his whimsical creations on street light poles above Fifth Avenue.

Jonathan Blum — who paints portraits of ostriches, goats and rabbis — created dozens of banners at the request of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, which hung the arty signs in an attempt to enliven the popular shopping strip.

“It’s kids’ art for grown-ups,” said Blum, who set up a storefront in the neighborhood more than a decade ago. “It’s upbeat and immediate.”

Blum created the images using oils on top of collage material, then resized them to fit the signs.

The finished product might not be highbrow — but it isn’t without soul, which is part of the reason the business group asked him to decorate the street lights.

Irene LoRe, director of the Fifth Avenue BID, said his style is “out of the box” — but, perhaps, just inside it enough — to suit the arts-kids-and-pets-centric neighborhood.

“It’s kind of kooky, I know,” she said. “But it’s a visual delight — and more exciting than stock art.”

Blum’s pieces stretch from Dean to 12th streets and encourage passers-by to “eat,” “shop” and “live” on the avenue. He created the designs years ago then donated them at no cost. The merchants group spent $6,000 to install permanent hooks for the 60 banners, meaning different flags could one day fly over the shopping corridor.

Blum’s signs will spread adult whimsy — and, yes, a few GAP Kids-like slogans — until Jan. 31.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 4:33 pm, January 5, 2012
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