• Legendary Artist completes Mural in Brooklyn for the late Notorious BIG

    John Garcia, a 21-year-old artist and Parsons senior, designed the “Biggie as Che” image specifically for Habana Outpost, and was paid for his work. Mr. Garcia was not originally mentioned in the piece and has not been given credit on the Brooklyn Love Building’s website. The actual painting of the design onto the wall was done by CERN (James Quinn), except for the pigeons, which were painted by Lee Quinones. We are currently reporting a follow-up story to address what led to the mix-up.

    Lee Quinones, one of the founders of New York City subway graffiti movement from the mid-1970s, finished a mural last week. He described the work as equal parts memorial to Notorious B.I.G. and artistic homage to a famous pop art print of Che Guevara.

    He also incorporated a piece of personal history into the painting — his abiding love for pigeons.

    “I consider them very majestic animals,” he said. “They’re peaceful and smart and they unfairly get a bad rap as ‘rats with wings.’”

    The mural shows a flock of outsized pigeons flying out of the subway entrance at the corner of Fulton Street and South Portland Avenue. One of the birds is clutching a miniature subway car in its talons.

    The birds fly around the artist’s rendering of Biggie posed in the style of the famously reproduced, and much appropriated photo of Che. A portrait of Biggie wearing a beret and scowling down on the street is superimposed on a sunburst background. The late rapper once lived in neighboring Clinton Hill.

    “It pays tribute to the neighborhood and the legacy of Biggie Smalls and has the revolutionary atmosphere of Che Guevara in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” Mr. Quinones said.

    Mr. Quinones’ piece spans from the ground to the roof of the Brooklyn Love Building, on the wall alongside the entrance of the Lafayette Avenue C train station.

    Sean Meenan, the owner of Habana Outpost and the Brooklyn Love Building, commissioned Mr. Quinones to paint the mural. The artist said that Mr. Meenan approached him with the initial idea of incorporating the subway station entrance into the project. They met up in Mr. Meenan’s office to brainstorm, where Mr. Quinones noticed a photo of Fidel Castro on the desk.

    The famous picture captured a moment when a white dove, one of many released by the crowd at his 1959 inauguration speech following the Communist revolution in Cuba, landed on Mr. Castro’s shoulder. Mr. Quinones said that the doves in the photo reminded him of pigeons – the often-reviled birds he has loved and kept as pets since he was a child.

    One of the pigeons in the mural – a large white bird with black and gray markings and outstretched wings – is a tribute to Godzilla, a bird Mr. Quinones once had, who was named for it’s size and attitude, he said.

    Tiffany Baker, an in-house designer for Habana Outpost, assisted Mr. Quinones in sizing and fine-tuning many of the images in the mural.

    “We wanted something very urban, very Brooklyn,” she said. “We wanted something we see on a daily basis living here, in a different way, and the passion that Lee feels took it to where it is.”

    Michael Price, stopped to check out the mural as he was coming up the subway station steps. He said he thought that the art was an accurate representation of the neighborhood.

    “I love it. It represents downtown Brooklyn to the fullest,” he said. “You wouldn’t think of pigeons for this type of thing, but it works.”

    Source: The New York Times