Of Arts and Oats: OATLY Over Little Italy

Posted on: November 20th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

The long-shuttered Miss Paradis restaurant has been an eyesore of Little Italy since before the pandemic.

This ill-fated eatery, which rose on a corner parking lot across from Old St. Patrick’s, closed its doors in 2018 after only a year in business (and four prior years of planning). Its gleaming rooftop apple did not live to see its unveiling.

Now, the residential neighborhood must contend with an aggressive billboard atop the derelict single-story structure. One that replaced said apple earlier this year. And the first brand sponsor is already on display – the oat milk brand, OATLY.

The advertising, which pitches “Oatgurt,” went up this week. And even though this isn’t exactly devastating to the neighborhood, it doesn’t exactly bode well for a resurgence of the storefront as a high-end establishment.

On that front, it seems building management doesn’t take too kindly to the style of local street art that has transformed the blackened walls into a community bulletin board in the months since the pandemic shutdown. In fact, they’ve been veracious in erasing any work from local creatives looking to brighten the vibe and inspire pedestrians to get involved.

Photo: Eddie Panta

(Meanwhile, other local businesses that were temporarily closed, such as SPACE NK, were more than happy to allow area artists to ply their trade on the anti-looting plywood.)

The work of Konstance Patton, along with her crew, the Soho Renaissance Factory, was painted over. As was that of well-known public artist Timothy Goodman, and “one line” Bowery artist Sir Shadow.

Photo: Eddie Panta

Yes, street art is temporary, and getting buffed is part of the game. But now it seems that, since the city reopened, the corporate slogans inspiring pedestrian behavior are again du jour.

Photo: Eddie Panta

Here’s just a small sampling of the work that was buffed-out in favor of black empty space, that, while private property, is still on a razor’s edge between public and private space.

The likely reason these billboards rise here is that the street is zoned manufacturing, but perhaps not for long. The city is now embarking on a plan to remove that designation from the area. Whether the billboards that plague the residential downtown area remain post-rezoning is still just a matter of speculation.

As of right now, though, the city appears to want its apple and eat it, too.

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