Mural is glimpse of things to come

New painting is part of gateway beautification plan for Brooklyn's business district

Baltimore & Region


Amid a spray of gold, black, red and white confetti, Brooklyn residents got their first look yesterday at a colorful 750-square-foot mural on a railroad overpass in the 3400 block of S. Hanover St., the first part of a neighborhood beautification effort.

About 50 people gathered about 3:30 p.m. for the unveiling, which also drew clusters of curious onlookers across the street. Several Ravens fans watching the game at O'Brady's Crab House wandered outside, shielding their eyes from the sun as the blue tarp that had hidden the work for weeks finally fell to the street below.

Concerned Citizens for a Better Brooklyn commissioned the mural as part of its gateway beautification plan for the area's business district. Follow-up projects will include new landscaping on Hanover and Potee streets and installation of park benches and trees along Hanover Street and Patapsco Avenue.

Patrick Moylan, president of the citizens group, said that the mural is intended to be a visible symbol of Brooklyn's revitalization. He said Brooklyn needs to project a welcome to visitors and the thousands of commuters who use its streets to travel to downtown Baltimore.

Local artist Michael William Kirby painted the mural on the northern side of the CSX Corp. railroad bridge, which crosses South Hanover Street between Kent Street and Chesapeake Avenue. The project was funded by local businesses and residents, the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods. Moylan estimated the total cost of the project at about $40,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

Kirby, 30, was chosen for the job last fall after Moylan noticed a mural he had painted on Key Highway. The artist grew up in Northeast Baltimore before going to Italy to study painting in Florence and Rome. His new work is titled "Man Using Blue to Extract Yellow from Green." In developing the mural, he said he considered the impact that industrial development has had on the environment, particularly in waterfront areas such as Brooklyn. The mural shows an image he calls Mother Earth, framed by industrial workers at both edges, with cityscapes in between.

Immediate reaction to the painting among local residents was mixed.

"It looks like a New York tunnel with the hippies that have drawn all over it," said Jeff Stratton, 62, owner of Brooklyn Sports Fair, a bait and tackle store just north of the mural. "I might be wrong; a lot of people might like that kind of stuff," he said. "But it's not my taste."

At O'Brady's, a few said they would have liked to see the name Brooklyn featured more prominently.

But Ray Morest, 63, viewed the colorful display as an overall positive part of the area's growth and redevelopment.

"We're the new South Baltimore. In time it'll be another community," said Morest, a retired salesman and 40-year Brooklyn resident. "Nothing can go wrong with doing something, because it's to improve the community. We're promoting Brooklyn."

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