A local artist painted a sprawling colorful mural to cover up graffiti blemishing a Bay Ridge street corner, only to find that vandals had defaced the painting less than 24 hours later — leaving the artist heartbroken, and locals fuming over the recent uptick in vandalism.
“It broke my heart so much that this happened,” said Nicole Stuart, who authored the mural at the corner of Gelston Avenue and 92nd Street. “The neighbors were so grateful and it just brings joy to so many people. It’s just a shame.”
Stuart, the founder of community-based art program Building Brooklyn Street Art, said she had taken it upon herself to beautify the corner with a portrait of flowers that completely covered the unsightly spray paint — which had featured barely-legible black and white bubble letters, along with other miscellaneous scribbles.
“I pass there every day and it just looked terrible,” said Stuart. “The whole corner is littered with graffiti.”
After she finished the flower painting, grateful locals had taken to social media to sing Stuart’s praises for her artistic effort, saying the colorful canvas added some much-needed brightness to the area.
“Such a beautiful work of art to see on my block. Always thought I lived on a rather drab looking part of [Bay Ridge] but this has made me feel so happy. Especially such a hard time in my life,” wrote local resident Anna Flores on Stuart’s Instagram page.
Yet the next day, the artist passed the corner to find that ne’er-do-wells had spray-painted more graffiti on top of her design, becoming just the latest example of out-of-control vandalism in the area, she said.
“The neighbors have been telling me it’s gotten a lot worse since COVID,” Stuart said. “They have been asking me to do another location across the street, they really want it fixed.”
On the heels of the apparent uptick in mischief, the area’s state senator said he’s reached out to leaders of the local police precinct, who promised to step up enforcement and patrols on the graffiti-ridden intersection.
“We spoke to the 68th Precinct about this location and they stated that they will increase patrols to prevent further problems at this particular location,” State Sen. Andrew Gounardes told Brooklyn Paper. “I’m proud of how our community works together to make our neighborhoods better.”
The freshman legislator also blasted city officials for cutting the city’s graffiti clean-up program, while commending the community for picking up the slack.
“The city’s $3 million graffiti program never should have been cut, but neighbors are stepping in to fill the void,” Gounardes said. “My team has partnered with local precincts to serve as a volunteer graffiti clean up crew, while local artists like Nicole are contributing greatly to the neighborhood.”