Celebrities are invading Bushwick — or its walls, anyway. Not only did Joey Ramone just show up on a Troutman Street building thanks to Bushwick Collective and French artist Invader, but an eye-grabbing tribute to Bushwick’s famous sons and daughters has also popped up.
Paintings of Eddie Murphy, Jackie Gleason, Rosie Perez, and others now grace the 8-foot-high, 180-foot-long brick wall surrounding the 83rd Precinct’s station house. The two-year-old Bushwick-based street art group Spread Art NYC, led by Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui, is teaming up with the NYPD and various street artists from New York and abroad.
“This is what art is,” Alaoui told Bedford + Bowery. “It’s about working together and helping the community.”
Most of Spread Art NYC’s work is in Bushwick. “We don’t want to just paint anything. We want it to be meaningful to the locals. A lot of our art has something to do with a particular street or block, and we always try to give local artists a chance.”
NYPD Detective Damarys Franco conceived the idea after meeting Rocko, who works at the Senior Center, at a community function. She thought of the concept and hand-picked the photographs she wanted artists to paint. Australian street artist Damien Mitchell painted the hilarious photo of a young Eddie Murphy, Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman painted a smiling Jackie Gleason, and Andre Treiner painted Starr Street’s own Rosie Perez. Vince Ballentine is currently working on a portrait of Jeannie Ortega.
“It’s a way for us to give back to the community,” Rocko said. “The 83rd Precinct has the coolest community affairs office I’ve ever met. They are very involved with the local community.”
Rocko said Spread Art NYC is likely done for the rest of year (“Getting cold out there!”) but they are excited for next year. “We’re planning on doing bigger walls,” Rocko said.