Missed Paradise: Street Art Gets Buffed as Billboard Rises on Prince Street

Posted on: August 4th, 2020 at 5:07 am by

Photo: Konstance Patton

Those anti-looting plywood barriers are coming down as stores are finally reopening. For street artists, though, it’s a mad scramble to reclaim the work they created to beautify the blight.

Many artists continue to petition management of buildings, store owners, or simply salvaging them from the trash. Others are still producing work on the storefronts that remain shuttered. This, despite the risk of loss.

One of these groups is the SoHo Renaissance Factory, a collective of local creatives comprised of Konstance Patton (Kon-Artist Studio), Trevor Coop, Brendan T. McNally, Amir Diop, Kota, and Sule.

Photo: Konstance Patton

On Friday night, the rag-tag street art crew was joined by actress Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black) to paint the entire encasement at the former Miss Paradis restaurant at Mulberry and Prince Streets. But by early Saturday morning, the positive visual messages of empowerment were painted black by building management.

Konstance, whose colorful goddess images have been seen from SoHo to Harlem, said that she’s grown accustomed to the risk and ephemeral nature of street art. “I’ve had more than a few pieces stolen,” she tells us. “People are taking the boards but that’s part of the street art experience.” But newcomer Dascha Polanco was heartbroken, Konstance said. The entire collaboration remains undaunted, yet confused, as to the abrupt blackout of the artwork. Especially given the number of other storefronts in the area that have been supportive since the shutdown and the Justice for George Floyd protests began.

It’s possible though, that the newly erected billboard frame atop the one-story building might have something to do with the erasure of public art. The newish advertecture replaces the iconic gold apple that once donned the top of Miss Paradis as a symbol to its healthy food and “paradise theme.” (Although, others did see the big gold apple as a symbol of a decadent city.)

Konstance and the SoHo Renaissance Factory collective believe that their work not only inspires and educates the public but also “beautifies” the neighborhood.

The boarded up shop at Prince and Mulberry – at the edge of SoHo and Little Italy – has indeed been a blight on the neighborhood since the closure of the restaurant. Street art like those created on boarded-up storefronts or commissioned as murals for security gates also work as a deterrent to everyday graffiti tags.

Photo: Konstance Patton

While no commercial billboard has been installed atop 47 Prince, the frame is already considered an eye-sore by local residents. And when a billboard is installed, it will surely block the light and view of the neighboring building.

There’s no definitive word yet as to whether the old Miss Paradis has a new occupant, but the gigantic billboard might be one way to offset expenses. For now, it remains a sure sign of late-capitalism and what is becoming commonly referred to as “luxury blight.”

Konstance and her crew remain undeterred by the loss of their artwork and are spreading the images they created there on social media. In the meantime, the collective has been commissioned to create temproratiy murals in Harlem and are preserving the work they were able to reclaim as a cooperative. Konstance said that the overall outpouring of support has inspired them to continue to spread their visual brand of hope and justice.

 

Recent Stories

Teenager Arrested in Connection with Essex Card Shop Fire on Avenue A

A teenager has been arrested in connection with the alarm fire that destroyed the Essex Card Shop at 47 Avenue A last week. EV Grieve first confirmed the news yesterday. Charges against the 13-year-old – whose name was withheld due to his age – include second-degree arson. Officials told the blog that that the arsonist […]

Woman Dies Month After Being Hit by School Bus in Chinatown

A pedestrian struck by a school bus in Chinatown last month has succumbed to her injuries. On December 16, at approximately 1:45pm, 67-year-old Ahhon Lau was struck in the intersection of Monroe and Catherine Streets. When officers arrived at the scene, Lau was found unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS transported her […]

Brooklyn Fare Market Makes it Official at One Manhattan Square

Brooklyn Fare Kitchen & Market officially announced its Lower East Side entrance with banner advertising at One Manhattan Square. The vinyl skins are now in the windows along Cherry Street, advertising free delivery and fresh produce. As previously reported, the upscale grocer signed a lease to occupy 25,500 square-feet across two floors in the base […]

Crab du Jour Goes Down After a Year on Grand Street

Crab du Jour, the ubiquitous franchise selling Cajun-style seafood, closed its Lower East Side location earlier this month. The shutter comes exactly one year after the fast-food spot first opened at 384 Grand Street. Several readers alerted us to the closure, noting that the restaurant hasn’t been open the last several days. Moreover, customers can […]

Former Red Square Retail Demolished for New Development

Nearly six years ago, the Dermot Company purchased the former Red Square for $100 million from Michael Rosen. The residential complex was further upscaled in the interim, and whitewashed into submission. The $100 million deal included space in the adjacent one-story retail. What largely went unnoticed at the time, though, is that the Rosen family […]