Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig Get Portraits on Storefront Near Yankee Stadium
Artists Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella painted murals of the Yankee legends on Monday at the roll-down gates by Stan's bar near 158th Street and River Avenue to encourage people to hang around Yankee Stadium and help out area businesses.
And on Saturday, July 19, Bella will return to the South Bronx to paint a full color mural of Yankees captain Derek Jeter about 20 feet down from the two sluggers, more toward Yankee Stadium, according to 161st Street Business Improvement District Executive Director Cary Goodman.
"She’s going to start in the morning and work through to the start of the Yankee game," Goodman said.
The murals are meant to be part of a broader mural project that will stretch to 162nd Street and may include baseball greats like Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente.
The murals stemmed from an effort by the 161st Street Business Improvement District and the nonprofit 501(See)(Streets) to revitalize and beautify communities through art across New York City, according to its founder Noah Sheroff.
The idea to paint murals along River Avenue came from the 161st Street BID. Sheroff reached out to the group earlier this year and said he thought the project would be a good fit for his nonprofit.
"Since this is a Business Improvement District, I think it goes hand in hand with that overall notion of business improvement," he said.
Ruth and Gehrig were the obvious two starting choices, said Goodman.
"When you think of the great Yankees, it's the Babe and the Iron Horse," he said.
Mastrion and Bella generally focus on art projects that involve the community, and they were mainly attracted to the murals due to their goal of improving the neighborhood.
"The Yankees are so iconic," said Bella. "They're such an important source of pride."
The murals are supposed to encourage people to stick around the neighborhood instead of quickly darting into the stadium. Mastrion and Bella also hope to see this project bring more public artwork to the area.
"It always brings a lot more business," Mastrion said. "It brings a lot more attention."
They are part of the 161st Street BID's focus this year on beautification, an effort that has also included projects such as setting up a bistro at the GrowNYC Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket and renovating the Bronx Stadium Gardens.
Goodman would like to see this focus on beautification include giving the elevated subway station by Yankee Stadium a fresh coat of paint as well.
"It's a part of overcoming a prejudice toward the Bronx as a dangerous place," he said.