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Gowanus Canal gets a facelift

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It was like putting lipstick on a pig, but smellier.

Dozens of volunteer artists descended on a massive, graffitied wall just steps away from the fetid Gowanus Canal and transformed the unloved cinder blocks into a vibrant mural. Organizers say the fruits and vegetables in their painted scene will liven up the canal-side Carroll Gardens area blighted by the recurrent stink of raw sewage and the deadly industrial sludge that have garnered the waterway a Superfund designation.

“The mural is all about life and vitality set against this highly contaminated canal, which is a place where fish go to die,” said Clinton Hill artist Ruth Hofheimer.

Hofheimer approached the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a group whose aim is to spruce up the 1.8-mile cesspool, with a design for the mural.

The conservancy found a warm reception for the idea with concrete factory owner John Quadrozzi, Jr. and a paint-by-the-numbers scheme allowed 60 helpers to cover the exterior wall of a Huntington Street concrete plant with as many gallons of donated paint.

The resulting mural is a cornucopia of watermelons, blueberries, cantaloupes, and avocados. Kale, a gentrified Brooklyn fave, makes an appearance, too.

Quadrozzi said that the block — which is adjacent to the canal — has been a dumping ground for years and that the presence of the vibrant fresco breathes new life onto the industrial street.

“It was dark and desolate and quiet,” Quadrozzi said. “The mural will brighten it up.”

The mural painting was a part of the canal conservancy’s monthly volunteer event, which is held every month from March through November. Hofheimer will be adding final touches to the fresco over the next three weeks.

Quadrozzi’s company recently paid a reported $60,000 to settle fines for improperly securing hazardous waste at his Gowanus Bay Terminal in Red Hook.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Updated 5:44 pm, August 1, 2013: Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that John Quadrozzi, Jr. paid $60,000 in fines for improperly securing hazardous waste. His company paid the fines.
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Reader Feedback

o3 from bk says:
paging diehipster...
July 30, 2013, 7:46 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
Vibrant! Vibrancy! Vitality! Gentrification!
July 30, 2013, 2:12 pm
Kyra Beckmann says:
wow! very inspiring!
July 30, 2013, 2:22 pm
donna from brooklyn says:
your sardonic comments, joe "from booklyn," don't elevate anything. as a native new yorker, i can't comprehend why anyone would have contemptuous thoughts for such a worthwhile and constructive project to beautify a neighborhood.
July 30, 2013, 2:37 pm
diehipster from Actual Brooklyn says:
Ive simply run out of Gowanus jokes. It's so played out already.
July 30, 2013, 3:54 pm
Resident from Carroll Gardens says:
Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! Got to see it...

Looks like things they are a changing for the better
July 31, 2013, 1:08 am
The Chooch from the Gowanus Riviera says:
Okay so consider this ... if this were some badass threatening graffiti, the anti-gentrification knee-jerkers would be giving it all kinds of esthetic gravitas. But since it's light, happy, decorative, optimistic, they'll say it's insubstantial. The Chooch calls a mural like this provocative, as he did the hipster regatta on this canal a few weeks ago. These are strong symbolic gestures to spur on the cleanup of this sewer you stoopit mooks left here.
July 31, 2013, 3:55 am
The Chooch from the Gowanus Riviera says:
Oh and diehipster, is "it" played out, or are you?
July 31, 2013, 3:59 am
diehipster from Euthanizing Ethans says:
Hey The Ethan (Chooch),

Why does The Ethan (Chooch) always speak in the 3rd person? Does The Ethan (Chooch) realize this is a sign of a sickness? Does The Ethan (Chooch) realize this is probably why The Ethan (Chooch) is delusional in thinking that any where in Brooklyn there are no hipsters is a bad place? Also, is The Ethan (Chooch) so obsessed that he needed to log in at 3:59am to make a pathetic point?
July 31, 2013, 12:39 pm
Peter Max from Manhattan says:
Ethan is under a lot of stress. Ethan is realizing that he doesn't have that much support outside of Ethan's "pals" Ty, Interloper, and Mike. Tough days for the Chooch and sleepless nights too. The poor dear. Do a little sketch, Chooch. Good for what ails you. See you in the funny papers!
July 31, 2013, 1:59 pm
The Chooch from Mookland says:
Eyy mother of mercy you both sound like a couple of blue haired ladies from Garritson Beach. Like you're hatching something. Qwackle qwackle qwackle. What. You mean the Chooch did NOT actually waltz in here one fine day and rattle your bird cage? Who is Ethan. Who is Medea. You talking about that story in New York Magazine? Still? Ya, I know the story, everyone knows it. I do not know those people, I know of them. You're chasing your tails. The Chooch was in a totally different scene. You gotta think Dunham Place, motorcycle parties, The Right Bank, crawdad barbecues, Coors. Keep tryin' fellas. I know you try very hard.
July 31, 2013, 5:14 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
It's better than it was before.
July 31, 2013, 7:39 pm
The Chooch from the high seas says:
HA! THAT'S an understatement. It's not just better, it's ours. By right. It's called the law of the sea. A shipwreck salvaged. The Chooch honors she shipwright, but not the goons who ran her onto the rocks.
July 31, 2013, 7:48 pm
K. from ArKady says:
Ha ha! These are just white people overtagging the wall and laying claim to the turf. Paint by numbers grafitti? Incredible! GentleBros, man your krylon cans.
July 31, 2013, 8:11 pm
TOM from sunset park says:
Donna, let Joe be. The author of the article set the true tone: THIS IS ONLY LIPSTICK ON A PIG!
Aug. 1, 2013, 10:14 am
bronx_flash from new york city says:
as far as murals go, it's pretty sterile and lacks heart. they could've found some actual muralists-- or even graffiti artists-- for the project. i mean honestly, a paint by numbers mural?
Aug. 1, 2013, 10:36 am
jean from 11249 says:
Hey Chooch, did Bambini give you permission to cop his identity? You spell better and use cohesive sentence structure, so I know it's not him; but the parody stylings are just too obvious.
Aug. 1, 2013, 1:22 pm
CALEB from CULDESACIA says:
go home ——ing hipster scumbags.
Aug. 1, 2013, 1:51 pm
The Chooch from Bobbing Head Row says:
Jean, you talking about the Bambolino? THE Bambolino? Nobody "copies" the Bambino. You emulate him and honor him, and stylize yourself in the manner of the world that he established for us.
Aug. 1, 2013, 2:03 pm
Trevor from Minnes...erm I mean Williamsburg says:
I was walking from my 6,000 a month apartment to the organic overpriced farmers market down the street when I saw this article and all I can say is bravo to those kind artists trying to fix up their native neighborhoods. Us Brooklynites have always loved art and overpriced lifestyles we are so innovative and undeground. I wish you all the best and intend to participate in these community gatherings of art degree holding, trust-funded, city savvy native New Yorkers. Like, Vivé lè Brooklyn forever mon ami's!
Aug. 2, 2013, 5:43 pm
Hipsterminator from Da Hood says:
I think "The Cooch" is really "The Stevie". Or maybe "The Ed". DH regulars know who I'm talking about.

Oh, and welcome back DH. I'll start posting once I figure out your new login system. Any chance of going back to the old look of the site? It was much easier on the eyes than the new look.

I got some links on the way too.
Aug. 2, 2013, 6:53 pm
Hipsterminator from Da Hood says:
This oh-so-original paint by numbers Sistine Chapel masterpiece will do sooooo much to neutralize the smell and the pollution. Hey, maybe even the fishes will decide not to die after all.

And that beautiful hipster music will give them a positive attitude which will overcome the poisons in the water. The Mast Bros Homeopath told me that so it must be true.

Like Yah!
Aug. 2, 2013, 6:57 pm

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