Art and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway may not inherently go together, but a gallery space has been looking to change that.

Gallery BQE is an unconventional street art collection whose works have been zhuzhing up the underside of the massive thoroughfare (specifically, the Meeker and Union avenues area, near Macri Triangle). It’s all a part of their “highbrow on the down low” ethos.

Local artist Kalcium Fortified co-founded the effort a couple of years ago. Since she passed the BQE every day, she eventually got to thinking that maybe the dirty, congested area could be an interesting canvas for art and took a chance on wheat pasting some of her own.

“I built some confidence around doing it, and for my birthday last year, I invited a bunch of my artist friends to come paste up with me,” Kalcium Fortified tells Greenpointers. The event’s success meant there was interest in keeping the works alive.

Paste-up nights generally happen monthly, with a rotating cast of artists. The group continues to grow, so local artists are encouraged to get involved. 

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“The more people do it, the more they come and see the space, and they start to imagine the possibilities of how their art could live under the BQE, and then they come back with bigger ideas and bigger artworks,” she continued.

The ‘official unofficial’ opening of GalleryBQE last year April 22 2023. Image courtesy of Gallery BQE.

The ephemerality of the works under the BQE is part of the excitement. Some might stay for months, some might get painted over instantly, and some might get tagged with graffiti. At first, it took some getting used to, but now Kalcium Fortified embraces the interaction.

“That’s a part of the nature of this experiment. You put something up. It’s out there in the open, and you have to be ok with people interacting with it,” says the artist.

If you’re interested in learning more, the group will host another walkthrough this Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m. Meet at 6:30 p.m., under the BQE at Metropolitan and Meeker Ave (across from the Birria-Landia truck)

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