Queens Artist Creates New Mural Celebrating Astoria

Mural “Steinway Cypher” by artist Brittany Baldwin in Astoria’s Steinway Playground. It will be on view through June 2019. 
Photos Courtesy of the Artist Mural “Steinway Cypher” by artist Brittany Baldwin in Astoria’s Steinway Playground. It will be on view through June 2019. Photos Courtesy of the Artist NYC Parks this month introduces the installation of the mural “Steinway Cypher” by artist Brittany Baldwin in Astoria’s Steinway Playground. The vibrant addition to the playground rehabilitates a 1,100-square-foot retaining wall and reflects the history of the surrounding Astoria neighborhood through bold, graphic symbolism. The mural was drawn and painted over the course of one week with several volunteers and will be on display for one year.

“Brittany Baldwin’s colorful new mural makes Steinway Playground shine,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Silver, FAICP. “Her love for Astoria and the many businesses and beloved landmarks that make up the fabric of the neighborhood come through in this mural, and we know it will bring a smile to each passerby who encounters it.”

“Steinway & Sons is very proud of its rich history, which is closely intertwined with the history of Astoria, Queens, and New York City as a whole,” said Steinway & Sons Senior Director of Marketing Anthony Gilroy. “We are honored that Brittany Baldwin, a talented local artist, has chosen to pay homage to this history through her mural installation in Steinway Playground, which is just a few blocks from our historic Astoria factory.”

For “Steinway Cypher,” Baldwin merged contributions of the Steinway family with elements of present-day Astoria to create a piece that reflects the visual landscape of the neighborhood. In 1870 William Steinway began building Steinway Village, a company town in what is now known as Astoria. The Steinway Piano Factory was built on this land and accompanied by employee housing, a church, a library, a kindergarten, and a public trolley line. Steinway also founded the resort town of North Beach and spearheaded a project to extend his town’s trolley lines under the East River, which led to the creation of the current subway tunnel.

A large, white piano-like shape positioned in the middle of the mural commemorates the industry titan. Aquatic and seashell forms are a nod to North Beach and the East River. Arrows highlight the progressive nature of Steinway’s ideas. Some of Baldwin’s other shapes are a response to the mosaics seen on Mombar, a beloved restaurant in Astoria’s Little Egypt. Additional elements of commerce are sprinkled throughout to honor local businesses that call Steinway Street home.

Artist Brittany Baldwin was born and raised in Flushing. She holds an MFA from Pratt Institute and a BFA from Adelphi University. Baldwin has exhibited murals in First Park, Manhattan and Rockaway. In 2016 she received a Barrier Beautification commission from the NYC Department of Transportation for her piece “Bounce” installed on Queens Boulevard between Woodhaven Boulevard and 59th Avenue. Baldwin lives and works in Queens.

For over 50 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has brought contemporary public artworks to the city’s parks, making New York City one of the world’s largest open-air galleries. The agency has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs.

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