Brightening up downtown

Downtown Glen Cove is getting a face lift in the form of art this week, as muralist Shei Phan paints the tower of the Brewster Street Garage. The project, funded by the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District, will transform the bare wall into a design that represents the musical aspect of Glen Cove: Downtown Sounds.

“This community has had live music downtown for 25 years now,” said Patricia Holman, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement District, “and we wanted to mark that milestone with something that people can enjoy for decades to come.”

The Downtown BID was in the process of creating a mural in the fall of 2021, but the funding fell through. Last month, Holman returned her focus on the mural project when it became clear there would be enough money in the budget to cover the cost. Thanks to grants received from PSEG LI for the flower baskets and string lights that currently decorate the downtown streets, capital improvement funding was available, allowing the BID to pursue the project.

Holman collaborated with various artists and the BID board of directors on a design. Inspired by the idea of incorporating music into the mural to represent Downtown Sounds, Holman worked with Glen Cove resident and Chaminade High School student Ryan Houghton, who created a rendering of a keyboard going up the length of the tower for the original design last fall. The piano keyboard remains the backdrop of the final design, though several changes have been made through Phan’s vision.

A fan of Phan’s since season 21 of “America’s Next Top Model,” Holman was familiar with her work as a muralist. She contacted Phan, who lives in Oklahoma, and learned she would be in New York this month and was available for the job. Holman immediately put the wheels in motion to move forward with the painting. She showed Phan the design that the board approved last year, and Phan enhanced it, adding images of people dancing on top of the keyboard.

“Shei looked through photographs from this year’s Downtown Sounds concerts and chose images with a lot of movement, such as audience members dancing on the street and performers on stage,” Holman said. “Our board of directors also asked for images that show the diversity of Glen Cove.”

Phan, 32, was one of the top five contestants on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2014, which brought her international fame. Soon after the show, she quit modeling to return to her first passion: art. Phan developed a love of art as a child, and realized she had talent by middle school. She went on to major in art education at the University of Central Oklahoma, and has painted murals in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and throughout Oklahoma.

The mural on the southeast corner tower of the Brewster Street Garage is expected to be completed by Aug. 12.

“This mural will help make our downtown more vibrant, more interesting,” Holman said, “and we hope that we’ll be able to do more projects like this in the future.”