Artists to Paint 'Protest Mural' in Dispute with Hotel Neighbor

By Leslie Albrecht on July 9, 2013 7:09am 

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 Artists plan to paint, dance and stage an "Occupy Gowanus" event near the Fairfield Inn on Third Avenue.
Artists to Paint Protest Mural in Dispute with Hotel Neighbor
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GOWANUS — They're hoping the paintbrush is mightier than the sword.

Artists from a Douglass Street building who are fighting with a nearby hotel are taking their battle public with massive outdoor murals and other al fresco artistic activism.

The activists, from the Gowanus Arts Building at 295 Douglass St., are holding a mural contest to see who can come up with the best visual expression of their troubles with the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites, next door to them on Third Avenue.

"We're not going for pretty. We mean to be a little more unsettling and disturbing," said Elise Long, a co-owner of the Gowanus Arts Building and director of Spoke the Hub dance troupe. "Hopefully, it will generate some debate and conversation and maybe a few laughs. Hopefully [the Fairfield Inn will] say, 'OK, what do you want?'"

The artists are also planning to drape banners in windows facing the Fairfield Inn emblazoned with the words, "Boycott the Marriott." Long also wants to stage a series of sidewalk performances outside the Fairfield Inn called "Developing Stories," and she'd like to create a small encampment with an "Occupy Gowanus" theme.

Long says the outdoor protests are the only way she can get the hotel's attention.

The Fairfield Inn complained earlier this year that late-night drumming from the artists' building — home to painters, musicians and other creative types — was disturbing its guests. That gripe has since been dropped, Long said.

Fairfield Inn management was not available for a comment immediately.

Though the noise issue seems to have quieted down, Long says the hotel still owes her building money for a wall that was cracked during the Fairfield Inn's construction.

She added that the Gowanus Arts Building and the Fairfield Inn had once planned to work together to get a mural painted on the side of the Gowanus Arts Building that faces the hotel parking lot. Before painting could begin, repairs needed to be made to the wall, which Long says was damaged when the Fairfield Inn was built.

The hotel agreed to fix the wall, but never did, and the Gowanus Arts Building ended up paying roughly $30,000 for the work instead, Long said. The joint mural was never painted.

Now Long and her creative compatriots are planning to go ahead with their own mural on three blank walls on the Gowanus Arts Building. For inspiration, an artist created a rendering that shows one of the walls painted with massive letters saying "Boycott the Marriott" next to a reproduction of Picasso's anti-war mural "Guernica."

Long plans to launch an online fundraising campaign to hire a professional mural painter and solicit ideas for the work from the public. She noted that she and other artists at the Gowanus Arts Building own their building, so they don't need permission to paint it.

"[The Fairfield Inn] can pay us to paint over it if they don’t like it," Long said.

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