A splash of color arrived at the Vanderbilt Avenue Open Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, over the weekend, thanks to a new mural gracing the boulevard has gone car-free on weekends during the pandemic.
The public painting “Carpet Collage” beautifies one block of the road’s median, between Bergen and Dean streets, and the artist hopes the artwork will make the street more homely.
“I really wanted to make it feel like a living room by collaging these different carpets together,” said Cara Lynch. “Especially over the last year where we’ve all been taking advantage of these spaces.”
The patterns draw inspiration from different cultures, ranging from the American Southwest to European designs, in an aim to represent New York City’s diversity, according to Lynch.
The painter and a group of helpers worked on the piece for 12 hours on Saturday, July 31, before adding some finishing touch-ups for four more hours the next day.
The Ridgewood-based creative was commissioned by the Department of Transportation for the work as part of the agency’s so-called Asphalt Art Activations, where city officials hire artists to paint large-scale murals to spruce up pedestrianized spaces.
Lynch has done a range of public pieces before, including a mural in Virginia Park, the Bronx, and a set of glass panels at the Ditmas Avenue F train station in Brooklyn.
Vanderbilt Avenue has been among the most successful and popular Open Streets since Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the volunteer-run program during the first pandemic to close off some roads to car traffic and give pent-up New Yorkers more space to gather safely.
Six blocks of the two-way boulevard are closed to cars between Atlantic Avenue and Park Place on Friday evenings and from noon-10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and the stretch has become a buzzing hub for locals and visitors to eat, drink, and just enjoy the added outdoor space.
DOT included the avenue in its Open Boulevards program, which features more programming, activities, art installations, and landscaping than conventional Open Streets.