June 20, 2022 By Alexandra Adelina Nita
More than 100 murals that have gone up on walls on select Astoria streets will be showcased this weekend when the 13th annual Welling Court Mural Project is officially launched.
The murals have gone up on blank walls and canvases on Welling Court and adjacent streets and will officially be unveiled this weekend. The murals will remain up indefinitely as a de-facto outdoor art museum.
This year’s launch will take place with events scheduled for June 25 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 11-25 30th Ave.
Both days will feature an artist market, and there will be an opportunity to see airbrushing by participating artists. On Saturday there will also be a children’s art making area from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Welling Court Mural Project is one of the longest-running mural projects in the five boroughs with more than 100 works permanently on display. The project was founded in 2009 after Jonathan and Georgina Ellis, residents of Welling Court at the time, looked for an organization that could help turn some buildings on Welling Court into a space for public art.
The pair reached out to the Ad Hoc Art gallery in Bushwick, which prior to its permanent closure in 2010 held silkscreen production events and provided studio rentals.
Alison C. Wallis, who co-founded the Ad Hoc Art gallery, worked with the community to develop the Welling Court Mural Project and used her contacts to find artists interested in participating. Wallis has been the project’s manager for the past 10 years.
The artwork is accessible to all, Wallis said, since it is up in a regular neighborhood for all to see. The work isn’t tucked away in a traditional gallery.
“The art world, the formal art world can be very closed off,” Wallis said when interviewed by the Queens Post.
This year there is a particular emphasis on showcasing the artwork of women. Traditionally, the project has featured murals painted by men and Wallis said she aims to help female artists gain greater visibility.
The event is always difficult for the organizers to host given their struggle to get funding.
Wallis emphasized how they try to compensate artists, since many artists are still recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic “We’re at a pivotal point where everyone needs to get paid,” she said.
Wallis said she is looking for sponsors and is fundraising online.
The project also faces challenges in finding space as older buildings are being torn down to make way for high-end apartments.
Wallis has also had mixed experiences dealing with city officials. She expressed her thanks to Councilmember Tiffany Cabán for her assistance in helping to secure the opening weekend’s location.
However, she also described how she has struggled to get the Dept. of Sanitation to provide trash cans in the area.
Wallis touched on the necessity of crediting artists for their work.
“They deserve the credit, they deserve the recognition, they deserve to be financially supported,” she said.