“There is No US Without U” art installation at the 71st Avenue Plaza.
Assemblyman Mike Miller and staffer with Queens DOT Commissioner Delia Hall and Beryl Brenner discussing the art project.
Theordore Renz and numerous artist veterans at the 71st Avenue Plaza near Myrtle Avenue.
Veteran art installations at the 71st Avenue Plaza in Ridgewood are the first of their kind in the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Urban Art Program.
Stationed in nine large art display cases along the storefronts of the plaza, the outdoor exhibition entitled, “There is No US Without U,” has been a place for generations of veterans to present their work in the community for the last several months, and now they are on their way out.
Beryl Brenner, a creative arts therapist with the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, has worked more than 35 years with veterans in the arts and spent nearly two years to help get this particular program off the ground.
“It showcases the special relationship that veterans have with each other,” Brenner said. “Throughout my career of working with veterans in the arts, I’ve been pleased to note that this connection is something that is really special.”
Brenner joined dozens of veterans that put their work on display at the plaza at the corner of Myrtle Avenue, many of whom previously participated in the VA NYHS hospital’s creative art therapy program in Bay Ridge.
“At the end of the day, the support that these veterans give each other is priceless,” she said.
Wendy Feuer, assistant commissioner of Urban Design and Art at DOT, noted that while the installations are being taken down in Ridgewood, the program will continue for more vets across the city to get involved and express themselves.
“We have a fantastic plaza program,” Feuer said. “You can change these exhibits quite easily and very inexpensively, so it’s a wonderful public art venue.”
Chaishiv Valram, an Iraq War veteran with the Army National Guard, was one of many that had their work on display at the triangle, and said this program was particularly important in providing an artistic outlet.
“I think it’s a good thing because veterans get to put their stuff on display,” Valram said. “They get to find a way to communicate to the public.”
Assemblyman Mike Miller said he wishes the program best of luck in the years to come.
“It’s a great exhibit and I’m glad it came to Ridgewood,” Miller said. “This community has a long history in supporting veterans and it was a nice addition to this triangle.”
For Theodore Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, the art installation was as symbolic as it was meaningful, as he said the plaza would soon become a permanent fixture in the community, a process nearly 30 years in the making.
“It’s been long awaited,” Renz said. “We believe very strongly in the Plaza Program, and in the arts program, because it does bring economic vitality to the community. It brings people to the plaza and in turn that creates economic activity.”
Beryl Brenner has worked with veterans for nearly 35 years.