The first step John Patti took in cleaning up his Ozone Park neighborhood was to go over the dingy walls of the underpass on Linden Boulevard between Peconic and 99th Streets with a fresh coat of white paint.
But the area, located next to Oz Auto Body and Towing — which Patti has owned and operated for 10 years — continued to attract neighborhood graffiti artists, Patti found, and lacked something aethetically pleasing and meaningful that could both discourage taggers and make residents feel good about their community.
“I’m here everyday and I was sick of looking at that wall,” Patti said. “I had a vision of doing something there that would appeal to everyone.”
Patti came up with the idea of painting a mural that would serve as a tribute to the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department and all the victims and families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11. He requested the artistic services of ArtFx Murals, a company that has specialized in hand-painted murals since 1984 and whose fine art and advertising work is displayed across the city.
Patti and his neighbors are pleased with the result — an intensely hued, horizontal panorama that features the downtown Manhattan skyline, a firefighter, emergency vehicles and a stoic eagle taking flight before an American flag. One image, however, continues to generate talk and laughter among residents, Patti said, that of a Port Authority police officer that the business owner lifted from the department’s official website.
“Everybody keeps asking me who that is,” Patti laughed. “I told a guy who works here, John, that I put his picture up there.”
With one mural under his belt, Patti has no plans of stopping now. In addition to placing flowerpots beneath the underpass, he would like to have the wall opposite the mural painted as well.
“Maybe we’ll do a nice neighborhood scene of kids going to school,” he said. “I want to come up with something everyone can relate to.”