GENTRIFICATION WITH A SIDE OF FRIES
Story by Max Jaeger as featured in TIMES NEWS WEEKLY
Photos taken by: Crystal Pena
Burger It Up, a relatively new restaurant on the corner of Knickerbocker and Flushing Avenues in Bushwick, displayed paintings and mixed-media collages from three Bushwick natives.
The display was a collaboration— called “Dash to Dine: ‘Modern Gentrification’”— between art collective Arts & Rhymes and artists WaAak STF, Monel and Vato, according to Brian Camacho (aka Mr. Radio), who organized the event.
Camacho said the artists were personal friends that he chose for the event because it was “only right to have Bushwick residents.” Camacho was raised in Williamsburg and now resides in Bushwick as well.
The works explored the tension between Bushwick’s “native” community and the forces of gentrification—capitalism, renovation hungry landlords and the transplant population.
A painting by WaAak depicts a horde of ghoulish green figures clad in plaid shirts and ripped denim jackets marauding through the streets, trampling regular-looking folks. A small girl sits on the sidewalk next to the chalk outline of a body and writes “Your here.. now leave! [sic]”
Other pieces were a little more tongue-in-cheek.
Paintings by Vato repurpose pop culture icons to make a statement about the economic effects gentrification has on local residents—particularly renters. One image shows Snoopy’s signature red dog house with a sign displaying the word “foreclosed” in a street tag font. Another depicts cartoon character Richie Rich smiling behind a lemonade stand. The price of lemonade has been changed from 50 cents to $10.
A third painting shows the Warner Brothers mascot holding a sign that pleads: “Hire a brother.” (Some have accused the mascot of representing blackface and minstrelsy.)