A Massive Mural for The Big Yard


 What better blank canvas to utilize than an entire schoolyard? This past weekend, Seaside Playground got a fresh new makeover with a huge painted mural by artist Shantell Martin. To celebrate the debut of the piece, kids from around the community were invited to partake by learning how to use Martin’s unique style of interconnected line painting to create their own masterpieces, which were hung around the yard at the Waterside School on Beach 109th Street.

After a call for artists, Shantell Martin, best known for her dynamic, category-defying, larger-than-life black and white drawings, was selected by Friends of Seaside Playground (FOSP) to take on the task of bringing “The Big Yard” at Seaside Playground to life. Martin’s work has previously been seen at Governors Island, the Oculus and Lincoln Center. This past weekend, she put her brush to the asphalt, transforming the 16,000 square foot outdoor recreational space with her 360-degree mural comprised of signature lines, iconic shapes, and primarily monochromatic black and white imagery to reflect the vibrancy of Rockaway’s community and urban beach landscape. On Sunday, October 11, the mural made its debut at a community event.

"Through the wonder, movement, and layers of details embedded in her canvases, Shantell Martin's work naturally engages the collective imagination and brings people together," says Laura Frank and Carolina Cisneros of FOSP.

On Sunday, kids were able to learn about Martin’s unique art style during a socially distant workshop and created their very own line drawing pieces, which were hung up around the fencing of the schoolyard. Members of the Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy were on hand to show support and provide masks and sanitizer to participants.

This mural was made possible by funding from The Rockaway Hotel, 7|G Foundation, and Citizens Committee for New York City. Parts of the mural can be viewed from ground level around the schoolyard, but the best views, to take in the whole piece, are from above. Being right across the street from the brand-new Rockaway Hotel, the mural can best be viewed in full, from one of the hotel’s many publicly accessible rooftop spaces, and balconies for guests staying the night. Those coming from and arriving to New York via JFK airport may also get a glimpse of the full piece from the skies.

"Art can be the connective tissue of a community, and we are so honored to work with Shantell Martin to bring her iconic vision of unity to the Rockaway peninsula,” Michi Jigarjian, partner and Chief Social Impact Officer of the Rockaway Hotel, said. “Facilitating public art initiatives for social change is paramount to the hotel’s social impact goals.”

For more info about Friends of Seaside Playground, check out @friendsofseasideplayground on Instagram. For more on Shantell Martin, check out @shantell_martin.

Photos by JBRPC and The Rockaway Times.

By Katie McFadden


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