By Scott Enman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gowanus’ skyline now has a new large sign to replace the iconic “Kentile Floors" emblem that stood perched over the neighborhood for more than 50 years.
The area is famous for its aerial signage, which could be viewed from miles away or more intimately from the elevated subway tracks and Prospect Expressway.
Prior to its removal in 2014, the “Kentile Floors” sign shared the sky with the famous “Eagle Clothes,” “Bruno Truck Sales” and “E.J. Trum” logos. All that remains of those signs is a lone “R” and a period from the “E.J. Trum” one.
While the majority of those giants are gone, those quintessential Brooklyn signs were a constant reminder of the area’s industrial past and indelibly marked the neighborhood.
The newest addition, while not a company’s logo, may prove to be just as influential.
The sign reads, “Resist” and is a political message and the latest installment from local photographer Ashton Worthington and his studio partner George Del Barrio.
The signage, which Worthington classifies as light graffiti, projects letterforms across his studio’s six windows.
“The sign came out of anger and a sense of desperation,” Worthington told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The idea for it was this lighting bolt. Our space is devoted to incubating creativity … The way our building is situated, it’s raised up. The highest point is like a lighthouse. We’re surrounded by this sweep of the F train right by the Smith and Ninth Street station, so we’ve got this really unique placement here.”
He added, “We see it as keeping the candle lit in the window, literally and metaphorically. One of our purposes is to try and keep this beacon lit to fight against the inevitable fatigue, which I’m sure everybody is feeling or will feel. Partly the genesis of this has been the response, the onslaught of what the [Trump] administration was doing.”
Worthington has lived in Brooklyn since 1997 and has worked in Gowanus for six years. He remembers the “Kentile Floors” sign fondly.
Along with Del Barrio, the two hope to use the artwork as a source of inspiration and rejuvenation.
“This is an evolving piece that will continue to develop and change as we do,” Worthington told the Eagle. “Because of the nature of the setup, digital rear projection, we can update content fairly nimbly and we will continue to explore and experiment, with words, typography and design, and to respond to events as they develop.
“Right now we are crowdsourcing languages — one response to the current xenophobia we want to explore is to find and put up the word RESIST in as many languages as possible.”
When asked how long he planned to keep the piece on display, Worthington said, “As long as it takes.”
For those wondering what happened to the “Kentile Floors” sign, it was donated to the neighborhood nonprofit Gowanus Alliance after the building below the sign was bought.
The Gowanus Alliance hopes to install the letters from the sign in the Fran Brady Under the Tracks Playground on 10th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. The park was closed in the late ’90s by the MTA, but there are plans to reopen it with new seating, greenery and basketball courts. The letters from the famed sign will be placed on 10-foot-high planters.