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Retired Army Captain Displays Veterans' Art in Lobby of Apartment Buildings

 Photos by veteran Peter Meijer on display in the lobby of one of Urban American's buildings in Flushing, Queens.
Photos by veteran Peter Meijer on display in the lobby of one of Urban American's buildings in Flushing, Queens.
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Urban American

ASTORIA — A former Army captain and property owner is using the lobbies of his apartment buildings to showcase the artwork of military veterans.

Photos by a former member of the Army Reserves now grace the lobby at 25-74 33rd Street in Astoria, as well as another building in Flushing — part of a program by real estate and building management company Urban American to offer former service members an outlet to display their art.

"We have a lot of lobbies that are starving for great work," James Eisenberg, co-founder of the company, which he runs with his family, operating some 90 properties across New York City, New Jersey and Westchester.

"If we want to put art up in the lobby, why can't we reach out to veterans?"

Eisenberg, whose brother and father also served in the Army, said he wanted to start the art program — called Reticle — as a way to promote general awareness about veterans issues and to highlight the work being done by service members, who can offer a unique artistic perspective.

"Being exposed to things and seeing things, I think it really changes and informs the way you look at the world," he said. "And when you have some type of artistic instrument, I think it really comes out."

The Astoria and Flushing buildings now feature the works of Peter Meijer, a 26-year-old from Grand Rapids, Mich., who served six years in the Army Reserves, including a deployment to Iraq in 2010. Meijer is now working for a humanitarian aid organization.

Two of his photos, striking shots of an alleyway and a public square in Tunisia, are now on display in the Astoria building, and more of his works will be added to four more Urban American buildings in the neighborhood soon.

"I had never considered displaying them before, and it's both humbling and an honor to be able to share my perspective and hopefully break down some of the simple notions others have of veterans," Meijer said in an email.

Meijer is the second veteran whose work has been displayed through Reticle, which included other buildings in Williamsburg and Sunnyside.

Eisenberg said he is looking to work with more veterans — including painters and sculptors — and eventually have their art displayed in 22 of his properties in all five boroughs.