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Artists Turn NYC Basketball Courts into Galleries for Public Art

Artists Turn NYC Basketball Courts into Galleries for Public Art

Public Art Delivers Creativity on the NYC Basketball Courts

Finding art in unexpected places is always a treat in itself. When it comes to public art, though, the feelings pieces invoke can be pretty polarizing. How about NYC Basketball Courts?

Should art, especially political art, be public? Is it ever OK to engage in defacing a building or structure without explicit permission for the sake of an artistic message?

It’s a complicated thing. However, in some cases, public art is just pleasant—so pleasant that the people that see those pieces of public art have come to recognize them as landmarks in their communities.

There are a handful of excellent basketball court murals in NYC. In short, these public art pieces are part of the community.

 Chelsea Park – NYC Basketball Courts (Manhattan)

Work: Chelsea Park

Artist: Robert Otto Epstein

Address: 8th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues

Dates: May 25, 2019 to May 24, 2020

This fascinating colorful grid finds itself into one of the most important parts of the basketball court—the ground, underneath the court markers. The piece itself is an attempt to reflect the rapid movements in basketball, as well as the fast-paced and somewhat chaotic nature of the game.

Robert Otto Epstein notes that the grid style came from his interest in crochet and knit patterns, which ultimately served as the base inspiration to create something on the scale of a basketball court. Lastly, the piece is part of NYC Parks’ Creative Courts, which turns old sports courts in Manhattan into art installations with the intention of bringing together communities.

NYC Basketball Courts - Epstein’s Basketball Mural
Robert Otto Epstein’s mural on the Chelsea Park court reflects the fast-paced, often chaotic nature of basketball. [Courtesy of NYC Parks]

Marcus Garvey Park (Manhattan)

Work: Alley-Oop

Artist: Saya Woolfalk

Location: Madison Avenue, between 120 and 124 Streets

Dates: May 25, 2019 to May 24, 2020

Another colorful and lively piece of public art can be found on a basketball court at Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan. Created by Saya Woolfalk, Alley-Oop is a conceptual piece made up of bright colors. Woolfalk is a New York artist who is known to use science fiction and fantasy to rework the world as she sees it in various dimensions, which is definitely reflected in the piece in question. The piece was painted in collaboration with the nonprofit youth organization Publicolor, who uses design and art programs to engage at-risk students.

Another transformed basketball court from NYC Parks’ Creative Courts is Woolfalk’s stunning piece. It was created as part of a greater initiative to get local communities interested in creative exploration and to add color to otherwise dated basketball courts.

St. Nicholas Park (Manhattan)

Work: CommUNITY Cities

Artist: Laura Bohill

Location: W. 141 Street and St. Nicholas Avenue

Dates: June 27, 2019 to June 26, 2020

The park benefits from the refresh. Moreover, artist Laura Bohill added her own unique art deco touch to the court grounds with her piece CommUNITY Cities. Hands are a focal point of the mural with the intention of representing the connectedness of the surrounding community. The mural features natural elements, such as plants, and mixes in various symbols that represent technology and urban life. Bohill has noted that a healthy and strong community is not possible without heart and vision.

The NY Knicks in collaboration with Squarespace commissioned the exhibit.

NYC Basketball Courts - Bohill’s Basketball Mural
Laura Bohill’s mural, CommUNITY Cities, on the court at St. Nicholas Park, is meant to represent the connectedness of the surrounding community. [Courtesy of NYC Parks]

Park Slope Playground (Brooklyn)

Work: Together As ONE

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Artist: MADSTEEZ

Location: Berkeley Place, between 5 Avenue and 6 Avenue

Dates: June 18, 2019 to June 17, 2020

Artist MADSTEEZ real name is Mark Paul Deren. He is well-known for his use of vivid colors and particularly large pieces of work. His Together As ONE mural on the court grounds of Park Slope Playground in Brooklyn, MADSTEEZ mixes abstract shapes with familiar figures to create a visually arresting work that is difficult to not get lost in. In addition, the work itself is reflective of MADSTEEZ own partial blindness. In one eye, he is only able to see in a handful of colors, all of which make common appearances in his work.

This mural, presented by EA Sports, is incredible from the air as a massive, complete work of art.

Rodney Playground North (Brooklyn)

Work: Tune Squad Court

Artist: Evan Rossell and Dee Rosse

Location: Rodney Street and South 1st Street

Dates: August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020

Rodney Playground in Brooklyn got a vintage throwback makeover at one of the park’s basketball courts. Artists Evan Rossell and Dee Rosse collaborated on this public art piece. In addition, it features classic cartoon characters that parents will easily recall and children with quickly notice. The use of universal imagery is likely intentional for this piece. Futhermore, the purpose of attracting families to the sports center to play and improve community interactions.

NYC Basketball Courts - Tune Squad Court Mural
Artists Evan Rossell and Dee Rosse teamed up to complete this Space Jam throwback mural on the court at Rodney Playground North. [Courtesy of NYC Parks]

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