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Good news for Hell’s Kitchen residents mourning the loss of neighborhood icon “Love Like Dolly” — a new “friend” has appeared on the corner of W47th Street and 9th Avenue, in a heartwarming tribute to the late icon Betty White.
The work of anonymous street artist Captain Eyeliner — known for their darkly comedic (sometimes existentially bleak) raccoon, cat-skeleton, and unicorn-themed work — Betty is a wheatpaste installation made of sequins, paper, and glue. “I started working on Betty the day she died,” said Eyeliner. When they found that Dolly’s old spot had a new opening, they seized the moment to add a homage to the Golden Girls star. Eyeliner clarified that “Just like Dolly, Betty is vandalism. No one has given me permission to put it up there,” though many passersby and Hell’s Kitchen locals have responded positively to the addition.
Betty isn’t the only Captain Eyeliner creation kicking around the area — eagle-eyed locals may have also spotted a few sad raccoons on 9th Avenue. Asked what draws them to paste in certain neighborhoods, Eyeliner responded: “I love pasting in Hell’s Kitchen because the community seems to like it and takes care of it. And that’s a really lovely feeling.”
In addition to previously installed pieces, Eyeliner is working through a few new concepts, adding, “There are two things that keep kicking around in my head that I want to do more of — one of those is a spin on ‘Live, Laugh, Love,’ because the world is so awful. So I’ve been doing things like, ‘Live, Laugh, Dissociate’.”
Eyeliner has also been researching cryptids, “which are regional animal-monster hybrids that I think are so fascinating,” they added. Commonly known cryptids include the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Abominable Snowman (we here at W42ST would also campaign to include NYC-specific cryptids like The Alligator in the Sewers!!). “I’ve been thinking a lot about paying homage to these fun beasts that people seem to love so much,” noted Eyeliner.
“One that New Yorkers seem to know a lot about is the New Jersey Devil [a bat-like creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens], there’s also the Kangaroo-Bat-Goat creature, and there’s Mothman. Mothman just shows up and says, ‘Hey guys, shit’s gonna go down. You should be careful.’ So they’re not always bad critters, sometimes they’re just harbingers of what’s to come,” they added.
Eyeliner remains coy at what may appear next on the West Side, though they added that “in the last month, I’m pretty sure that I put up a couple of Jersey Devils in Hell’s Kitchen.” Regardless of when they return, the artist is certain that they will revisit the neighborhood, bolstered by the sense of community and care towards their work.
“One of the things that keeps me coming back to Hell’s Kitchen is that I hear from the community regularly — whether it’s the individual that made the chalk on the sidewalk [Karin Schall] that said ‘I miss Dolly’, or if it’s folks that are from out of town that I haven’t seen in a while that visit and take a picture with Dolly, or the people who live in the community that tell me they still go by and touch the sequins. It’s really kind.”
You can visit Betty at her new home on W47th Street and 9th Avenue at the long-shuttered Starbucks, but head there quickly — you never know when she might disappear!