The Kentile Sign meant nothing to me. It was dismantled before I was able to see the 8-story advertisement grace the Gowanus skyline, but even if I had been here, and passed it on those rare occurrences that I took the F train running through Smith-9th Street, I doubt I would have any emotional attachment towards it. [Ed. Note: ajkaklsaklfalkas]
To me, it was just an aesthetically pleasing billboard with no story behind it, no message or heartfelt declaration, it was there to sell you tiles, and maybe show you a glimpse of a simpler time but even that’s pushing it. And this isn’t to diminish the experiences and emotions of those native Brooklynites or Brooklyn transplants that were, and still, emotionally devastated by the loss of the signage. But in the bigger story of Brooklyn, it was just another memento taken down by a changing landscape, one where development prevails over nostalgia and nothing is sacred, not even those that serenade Brooklyn, like the “Love Letter to Brooklyn” mural.
If you have ever found yourself on the border of Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill, in Fulton Mall, you’ve probably caught yourself walking the entire length of a 5,000-square-foot concrete parking garage reading this deconstructed ode to Brooklyn, meant to empower the surrounding community and reflect the sentiments of those who grew up here. Like Dave Chino, an old-school graffiti artist, who, with fellow artist Steve Powers painted the lines,”Every Street Carries Us / I Grew Up In Your Arms/ Raised To Take Flight/ Owning The Ground I Held/ Steeped in Your Stories” back in 2010, as a part of their commissioned vandalism of Macy’s.
“The words that decorate the parking garage were inspired by conversations about Brooklyn between Steve and I,” Chino said in an Instagram post. “The mural begins on Hoyt Street and wraps around the block to Livingston Street, Elm Street, with the last bit of the mural facing Fulton Street. I have a deep connection to the work, the location, and the borough of Brooklyn. I’m humbled by my inclusion, and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful project that allowed me to salute the place I call home.”
Chino’s post appeared on Tuesday, shortly after Powers announced on Instagram that the mural will be taken down as part of Macy’s deal with Tishman Speyer to renovate the Downtown Brooklyn location. The $170 million deal, reported back in August 2015 by the Curbed, would be giving the store a much needed facelift, while converting five of its nine floors into “high-end office spaces.” At the time, the exact fate of the parking garage, nor the mural, was never revealed though all signs suggested an impending demise.
To say that the mural is simply just that, a mural or collection of tagged walls by some street artists claiming territory is unjust. It captured the spirit of living in Brooklyn and the sacred love affair those who live here have, in regards to living, surviving and leaving their home. And for the newcomers, like myself, it was an invitation to this world and glimpse into this new normal of hustling to get what you need while being entrenched in a city with such a rich culture and past. It represented the essence of living here, but losing the mural is more bittersweet than it is sad. Yes, another iconic Brooklyn sign is coming down but there’s an end to this letter that was six years in the making, if not an accumulation of decades upon decades of experiences for material. So when Powers confirmed the mural’s last day in a two-part goodbye series on Instagram, one being of him blowing a kiss beside the two bridges that read “Euphoria Is You For Me,” it was almost like a tender goodbye and closure to seal this love letter to Brooklyn.