Saturday, June 30, 2012

Binny Owl

When I first noticed this owl, I thought it might be related to the mural on the other side of the same building – the artist and his brother renamed the art gallery production company 40 Owls. They told me they didn’t know about the owl until I asked. So for now, the artist and the inspiration are unknown.
Binny’s food mart is a liquor store, convenience store, all-around, classic Jersey City bodega that has been on this triangle where 4th Street converges upon and crosses Newark since the Dutch massacred the Lena Lenape by the Hudson and began marching towards the hillside. Okay, maybe not quite that long ago, but I’m thinking when Reagan was president you could still get a 40, a lottery ticket and an optima here. Maybe with 10 or 5 years the encroaching gentrification will SoHo-ize this stalwart establishment and maybe this old gate will be replaced and this owl will be gone and a store and gate with far less authenticity will be catering to customers with far higher personal incomes.
Faded, drab red exterior, rust splotches on top of the gates, this building resists gentrification, for how long? The mural on the 4th street side, and now the new owl on the gate facing Newark, the building is a canvas for some artists, who may not be outlaws but seem to on the fringes of even the local artist circles. Is art a harbinger of the encroaching gentrification or will it protect this old urban building from developer commodification?
I don’t know, do you, or must we wait for time to tell us which side art is on?
 The picture looks like a charcoal sketch. I like the shades of the owl, blacks, grays, white, all against the gun metal gray of the gate; the similarities of all the colors blend with a muted shimmer.  The round eyes of the bird echo a native american art feel.

I went inside the store – Plexiglas, raised counter so the clerk can constantly survail, very urban decay 80s – inquired about the owl. I don’t the man the said, it just appeared.
The owners of the building allowed the mural. The owl may have a different inception. Maybe the guy I talked to at the counter just hadn’t been informed about this latest art project, or this is street art/graffiti, a quasi-illegal act of aesthetic defacement of private property.
I kind of doubt the latter is the case because of the size of the work, it had to require a significant amount of time, longer than pasting a stencil or scrawling a tag, for someone to get away with doing that sort of unpermitted activity, if that is the case, speaks to the ingenuity of the artist and the quality of local police surveillance, which is why I think it was sanctioned – maybe it’s been sanctioned after the fact. Maybe there has been so much art spreading around that sanctioned or not everybody accepts and welcomes. Every building has canvas potential –  some more than one canvas.