The Prow Transformed Hosts Offensive Junk Art

RIOC Challenged by Graffiti, Some Racist and Obscene, on Roosevelt Island

Updated 52 weeks ago David Stone
RIOC Challenged by Graffiti, Some Racist and Obscene, on Roosevelt Island
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Scrub from your mind colorful, imaginative creations on deteriorating buildings or Keith Haring's subway work or Banksy's mysterious productions. What we have at The Prow, along the West Promenade south of The Octagon, is a sloppy collage of spray-painted vandalism spiked with overt racism and obscenities.

Warning: images below are offensive. We've included them to make the reality clear.

In my earliest days of freelancing for the Main Street WIRE, I wrote a story about years of accumulated graffiti that turned The Prow, jutting into the East River as if heading for York Street, into a depressing mess of paint on rusting metal. 

It was worse, then, in some ways. Artless artwork decorated the outside as well as the inside of the installation. But it's content wasn't as offensive.

The racism and obscenities that, today, linger after more than a year are an embarrassment to Roosevelt Island or at least they should be.

In full view on the West Promenade, for all ages.
In full view on the West Promenade, for all ages.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Developing my first article, I asked Fernando Martinez, then RIOC's Vice President, about it and got a quick response saying that plans for removing the graffiti were already in the works. Soon, The Prow was clear again, a pleasant waterside spot for folks of all ages out for a walk along the river.

This time, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal's reaction was equally quick and definitive, no excuses.

"We’re on it," she declared. "We’ve already started discussing graffiti in connection with our Island beautification program.

"Unfortunately," she added, "this isn’t the only spot!"

Racist graffiti with a dose of obscene.
Racist graffiti with a dose of obscene.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Residents and visitors can only hope that discussing advances lightning fast to action. Racism, with or without its accompanying obscenities, should not catch a singe avoidable ray of sunlight on Roosevelt Island.

 

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