Monday, June 12, 2017

Street artists and small businesses in New York City have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for generations. Small businesses often commission street artists to create stunning murals on the side of their buildings or gates. Doing so creates public interest, promotes recognition for both the artist and the business, and is visually appealing for the neighborhood. But, what other benefits does the artist-business partnership have? One street artist in Brooklyn decided that this relationship could benefit children in his neighborhood as well.

Pierre Francillon, a Prospect Lefferts Gardens (PLG) neighborhood native, is an established graffiti artist whose brainchild is “PLG ABC.” This project focuses on the literacy of children in his neighborhood by painting the letters of the alphabet on one of the most recognizable places: the gates of store fronts. Francillon collaborates with other street artists, such as Damien Mitchell and Lofty305, to conceptualize, design, and execute the letters and local businesses have been lining up to assist in this project. Starting with MACPC NYC on Parkside Avenue in early April, Mitchell painted the first letter: “A”. MACPC NYC is a device repair shop, and next to the letter “A” on a second gate for the store front is the Apple logo. The second letter to be completed was the letter “H”, painted by Lofty305 on Hawthorne Hardware store, located on Flatbush Avenue. The letter “M”, painted by Meresone, is on the front gate of Little Mo Wine and Spirits, located on Nostrand Avenue. The letter “R” is planned to go up along Rogers Avenue, by an already existing mural of roses that is featured on the gate of the new site for the Abun Dance studio.

PLG NYC is an on-going project. Francillon intends to continue working with other artists and local small business to finish the letters of the alphabet. Once the alphabet is complete, intentions are for a map to be made so children can enjoy a scavenger hunt for the letters. This map will also lead the children, and their parents, to the small businesses in their neighborhood.

Prospect Lefferts Gardens is known as “the last affordable neighborhood in Brooklyn with a view,” however, that is steadily changing. Young transplants are moving in, and it is likely that PLG may see a socioeconomic change in the neighborhood similar to that of Williamsburg. The involvement of small businesses promoting literacy through the street art adorned on their establishments encourages residents to preserve the aspects of their neighborhood that help to build a strong community.

Residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens met this project with enthusiasm. Responses over social media, such as Facebook, are overwhelmingly positive. Some of the artists are also displaying the work of the letters that they helped to create on their personal Instagram accounts.

PLG NYC was originally funded by Francillon, who supplied the paints and equipment. However, it did not take long for residents in the neighborhood, donors, and business sponsors to contribute to this cause. Francillon welcomes anyone who wishes to participate in this project to contact him at plgabcmuralproject@gmail.com.

PLG NYC is a project that is meant to bring neighbors and businesses together, old and new, to not only promote literacy, but also a sense of long-lasting community.