A Katie Merz Mural on Gentrification – White on Black

A Katie Merz Mural on Gentrification – White on Black
Katie Merz mural on Flatbush Avenue and Fenimore (Photo: Kadia Goba/BKLYNER)

PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDEN — Katie’s at it, again.

The artist, Katie Merz, best known for her 80 Flatbush mural, is tagging all parts of Brooklyn. Less than a week ago, Merz was putting the finishing touches on a gate that rolls down from the upper floor of the Hill Country Food Park on Adams Street, Downtown Brooklyn. Before that, she scribbled drawings in Austin, TX, Reading, PA and DUMBO.

“I want to make a new way of reading,” said Merz. “This is like a big book on a wall.”

Katie Merz’s mural at Hill Country Food Park via Katie Merz Instagram (Photo credit: Ty Inwood)

Bklyner first profiled the artist a week into the 80 Flatbush project in September 2017. Last month, the Copper Union alumnus rolled out a 200-foot version of her drawings to celebrate the inaugural anniversary of the 80 Flatbush. Developers agreed to feature the artist’s work for two years before renovations at 80 Flatbush begin. This summer Merz, 57, took her signature drawings back to her roots — Flatbush Avenue and Fenimore Street around the corner from where her 92-year-old father grew up.

“I wanted to capture the ever-diminishing Brooklyn as I know it,” she said. “It’s like a monument to a language that’ll be gone in 10 years.”

Merz said the two weeks on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Fenimore Street gave her incredible insight on how divided the area has become. Newcomers who’d come to the borough a decade ago and people whose parent’s had migrated to New York City during the 1940s and 1970s shared— with her— intimate thoughts about the neighborhood.

“It’s a wall about gentrification, new people versus old,” she said. “I got to know the whole block.”

Katie Merz mural on Flatbush Avenue and (Photo: Kadia Goba/BKLYNER)

From drivers who yelled out, “Hey! You gotta put DayDay up there!” to cafe owners who suggested— more than once— that it’s a good idea to add the names of the business owner’s in the area, Merz said almost everyone offered suggestions. As in many of her projects, the artist welcomed the banter and encouraged people to insert their memories.

Merz works with white oil sticks over black paint mainly but also dabbles in ink and gouache on different backdrops.

On the 35-foot wall, the name Khalil floats under Randi with a twisted version of the word “Flatbush” somewhere in between. Also in the mix, a representation of the many hair salons within a 3-4 block radius and a manicured hand with super long tips to highlight the plethora of nail shops on Flatbush.

For Merz, the Flatbush and Fenimore project represented icons of her past, something tangible that could remind people of an old movie theater they’d been to as a child.

“Plus, I just miss old Brooklyn,” she added.