Plein air paintings and risograph prints of a vanishing neighborhood
This project received a 2023 New Works Grant from the City-funded Queens Arts Fund, administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Willets Point’s days are numbered. Known as the Iron Triangle, it is an industrial neighborhood in Corona, Queens, consisting of auto shops, scrap yards, and small businesses, supported by and serving a working-class immigrant population. The area has unpaved roads, no sewers, and lacks city services, though it’s heavily taxed. In 2022 the City of New York reached an agreement with New York City FC to raze the neighborhood and build a stadium.
“Iron Triangle Requiem” is a growing collection of plein air watercolor paintings made in the streets and among the businesses of Willets Point. The project captures a fleeting moment in time as a unique New York microcosm vanishes.
The paintings will later be reproduced in a risograph book printed at the SVA RisoLAB, along with photos, historical images, and oral histories gathered in Willets Point.
From on-site watercolor paintings to risograph prints
“Iron Triangle Requiem” will be a suite of plein air watercolor paintings alongside photos, historical images, and quotes from oral histories gathered in Willets Point, reproduced in a risograph book printed at the SVA RisoLAB. The book, paintings, and inkjet prints will be on sale at an opening in November 2023. These images show the process from on-site painting to risograph print.
Step 1: A plein air watercolor painting is created on the street in Willets Point.
Step 2: The painting is scanned and separated into color plates.
Step 3: The plates are printed on a risograph printer.
Result – a 4-color risograph print.
Plein air painting and stories
The heart of the project is my experience painting within Willets Point. I enjoy painting in cities and among people. The jumbled, busy, chaotic environment of Willets Point is a particularly exciting subject. Plein air painting is always a way to meet people, who will often approach and see what is being made. The reactions I’ve received from the people working in and patronizing the shops in Willets Point been especially supportive. People are happy to be seen in the paintings, and willing to share the stories behind their businesses and their lives. These stories and quotes will be reprinted in the book, adding context to the images, and helping to capture a fleeting moment in time as a unique New York microcosm vanishes.