Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Battle-Axe Gleason Lived Here

Historic block boasts politico's former home

"LIC/Dan's House"
Oil on canvas
14 x 11 inches

Several months ago Dan, a new collector of some of my Long Island City-themed paintings, commissioned me to do a painting of his home on 45th Avenue, the area's historic block. While discussing the commission, Dan mentioned that his home had once been owned by a former mayor of Long Island City, Patrick Gleason. I did a little google search and found that this Irish immigrant had come to America, fought in the Civil War (today being the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the war), made a fortune and got involved in politics. He was LIC's mayor before incorporation into the City of Greater New York in 1898. From some accounts, Gleason was a politician in the Boss Tweed style and was not well-liked by many. However, he was considered a friend to the common man and is the person responsible for P.S. 1, his legacy to the community's children. P.S. 1 continues on today, refurbished and home to a thriving contemporary art scene, a branch of MoMA.

It is always so interesting to learn about the history of a building. Not only did I enjoy working on the wrought-iron and brick facade, I imagined the meetings and deal-making that might have taken place inside back in the late 1800's. Dan picked up the painting last week and was very pleased with the finished commission. The block boasts many wonderful buildings and I just might do another painting or two someday.

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