Most recently, Chatime Station at 97-11 64th Avenue in Rego Park became a canvas for murals by East Harlem resident Kristy McCarthy, who is a 33-year-old urban artist nicknamed “D Gale.”
After 20 hours of painting with acrylic and aerosol, D Gale completed the feel of a “virtual subway ride through time,” which looks out onto lost landmarks of Queens.
She paid tribute to Alexander’s department store in Rego Park, which closed in 1992, Shea Stadium which was demolished in 2008, and 5Pointz in Long Island City, a legal haven for street artists before it, too, was demolished.
“Particularly in the case of 5Pointz, we are seeing more and more important cultural landmarks of New York City being destroyed to make room for high-rise condos, chains, and expensive boutiques, so my mural is a reminder of old New York,” she said.
Her mural is the ideal complement to the owners’ salvaged subway car seating, map tables, train pole, and large subway interior print over the counter. Chatime Station joined the Rego Park business community in December.
“We were personally tired of walking to Forest Hills or Elmhurst for bubble tea, so we felt there was a need,” said David Liu, who owns Chatime with his wife Victoria Lee. “Our goal was to offer a place where people can lounge, like a bar without the alcohol.”
“Many patrons who came in while I was painting were born and raised in the neighborhood and shared memories of those places and other Queens landmarks which no longer exist,” McCarthy added. “I am glad that the mural has helped honor sites that have been part of so many people's lives.
“My goal is to use art as a tool to build community and remind humans of their humanity,” she added.
McCarthy, founder and coordinator of the Harlem Art Collective, invited the public to the Guerrilla Gallery, an outdoor community-curated art gallery on a stalled construction site at 116th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues.
Beyond Rego Park, her works of art include the Audubon mural project in Hamilton Heights and two murals in East Harlem on 115th Street and 1st Avenue, as well as at the Manati Community Garden on 117th Street at Pleasant Avenue.
She also painted at Centrifuge on 1st Avenue and 1st Street, as well as at the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria.
Last summer, the former 5Pointz curators invited McCarthy to participate in a street art project at August Martin High School in South Jamaica, which once had the highest dropout rates citywide.
“Since it’s an aviation school, I decided to paint a female airplane pilot whose braids spell out, ‘You matter,’” she said. “I once read about a principal who lined up her students each morning and told them that. This was a really simple but powerful statement, which could empower those students to give their full effort and envision a brighter future.”
McCarthy explained the power behind urban art. One of her favorite quotes is “when the media is silent, the walls speak.”
“Since urban art rarely has to pass through the strainer of a curator or a censor board, and that it’s in the public on view for all, makes it a raw and genuine form of communication,” she said.