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Forest Hills resident launches new initiative to create mural highlighting community’s rich history

Jul. 25, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Forest Hills resident and local preservationist Michael Perlman is spearheading a new initiative to create a large-scale architectural and cultural history mural in the community. 

Perlman, who is chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and a member of Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, said the mural will be a visual and interactive anchor on a large brick wall alongside The Bagel Spot at 101-01 Queens Blvd. 

“The pandemic put a strain on numerous businesses citywide, and I commend the owners of The Bagel Spot for acquiring a bagel shop that was established in the early 90’s in Forest Hills,” Perlman said. “They gave it a new lease on life. It’s like a second home to many community residents who socialize there daily.” 

The Bagel Spot facade with the wall for an upcoming local history mural.(Photo by Michael Perlman)

According to Perlman, the mural will feature a variety of historical buildings that were demolished. Perlman and his colleagues have appointed artist Gigi Chen, whose artwork has appeared in galleries citywide and has produced murals for many clients. 

“Gigi Chen is extremely talented. She visualizes in photo realism. In terms of painting, her dominant subject are birds, nature and she occasionally paints buildings. She merges nature and buildings extremely well and she inspires me a lot,” Perlman said. 

The Bagel Spot co-owner Ruben Davidov, Michael Perlman and artist Gigi Chen.Photo by Linda Perlman

Perlman is also partnering with Noble Signs, which will provide and install high-quality sign panels, and Cleanfellas Inc. will strip layers of paint and restore the circa 1940 varied shade of orange brick wall. 

“The mural will be painted on durable sign panels and graffiti repellent will be applied to the panels and the wall. It will span approximately 24 feet,” Perlman said. “Despite having sign panels for the mural, neighborhood residents will see the wall restored alongside the mural. It won’t ruin the original brick.” 

The project, according to Perlman, costs over $10,000. He has raised nearly half of the funding with contributions from residents and businesses, and has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the remaining balance of $6,500. 

On Saturday, July 22, Perlman hosted a fundraising event with legendary comic artist John Stanisci at La Boulangerie in Forest Hills. Stanisci, who has worked for Marvel & DC Comics, sold prints, originals and sketches of a person’s favorite character. The proceeds from the event will benefit the community history mural. 

Photo via Facebook/Michael Perlman

Perlman, who has collaborated with Stanisci on past local projects, said he is very grateful to collaborate with the artist for the mural project. 

Perlman said he hopes to create more murals in the future. 

“I love the arts and I think it’s a valuable tool to celebrate our history and architecture in a creative way,” Perlman said. “It’s also an asset to commemorate our culture and buildings that sadly underwent demolition as a result of not being landmarked in time. Hopefully, someday, this mural can lead to the replication of certain buildings. We’re very fortunate that a number of very talented architects designed buildings in Forest Hills and Rego Park.” 

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