Over Under Mural by Erik Burke

Brooklyn artist Erik Burke was recently commissioned by Jeremy Sapienza to paint this large-scale mural on a residential building in Bushwick. It deftly combines neighborhood scenes with abstract elements in distorted perspective. The train/doorway is a stroke of genius.

Check out Erik’s Flickr for more photos of this project, plus tons of other inspiration. According to his blog, he’s interested in “Modern memorials through Collective Technology. I will experiment with ways to reconnect people to places by hybridizing analog techniques with popular interfaces of technology for democratic participation. My process will take on a Cultural Geographers perspective and an Art Scientist’s approach.” Hmm, he definitely sounds like someone to watch.

Sidenote: I’m familiar with Bushwick. My sister was born nearby at Woodhull Hospital. Friends of mine used to live in a scuzzy storefront in Bushwick and, when one of them suffered a seizure at the local fried chicken place and landed in the emergency room, the whole neighborhood knew he was our friend, because we were the only white people in the area. It was a summer of, “Hey, I heard your friend died.” [He did not.]

Ten years ago, these friends were maybe some of the original gentrifiers, and yet, when I hear that Bushwick is on “other” people’s radar, I wonder where normal Brooklynites have left to live. Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Sunset Park are off the list, and even Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and now Bushwick are neighborhoods upon which people from Bumblefuck, Wherever descend. Coney Island has heard its death toll. What’s next? East New York? Brownsville?

Of course, this is all basically hypocritical thinking. The essence of New York is predicated on the presence of outsiders, so distinguishing between old and new outsiders is like splitting hairs. And, as much as I claim the place, I’m an outsider as well. Anyway, my waxing nostalgic for days gone by is silly compared to my stepfather’s perspective [born and raised in, and soon-to-be evicted from, Coney Island] or my great-aunt Helen’s reminiscences [born and raised, and never leaving, Greenpoint]. Still, on some level, I believe no one besides Bushwick Bill [another outsider] should even be talking about Bushwick.

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