Sixteen Years on, Quality Mending Bids Farewell to Prince Street with a Blue Cap Salute

Posted on: June 23rd, 2020 at 5:04 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

Vintage clothing shop, Quality Mending, is moving on from Prince Street with a Blue Cap salute to the neighborhood, as well as one last artwall project that they hope will inspire the community to get out the vote and, as their new project promotes, #BlueHatsforChange.

Like many long-standing small businesses around the city, Quality Mending owner Oliver Harkness was forced to close his shop due to the Covid-19 shutdown. Known for selling everything from Texas punk band rock-tees, to custom Levi’s biker jackets from the 1960s, to classic 1950s Americana, the vintage threads shop had become a beloved small business that exemplified the community’s passion for art, music, and culture.

But the neighborhood won’t just be losing a vintage clothing store. Harkness, along with some friends, curated an artwall on Elizabeth Street since the shop opened in 2004. The first artist was Rich Jacobs, and since then, has showcased the work of Arturo Vega, John Lurie of Lounge Lizards fame, Billy Childish, and other Downtown artists including Al Diaz (aka half of SAMO). Muralist IAMFINLEY has had a more permanent presence with her goddess of inspiration mural that has become somewhat of a landmark since 2016.

Now, as a final farewell, and a hat-tip to the neighborhood, Quality Mending is turning to the general public for inspiration.

Photo: Eddie Panta

Harkness teamed up with Maureen Sullivan of Red Art Projects for a “Make America_____ Again” participatory chalkboard mural as well as the production of 100 limited edition blue trucker Hats For Change. The idea was originally conceived as an in-store fundraiser project for the Swing Left organization, but was interrupted by the pandemic. So instead of scrapping the idea, Quality Mending extended it into the public sphere and are now giving away the hats for free to neighbors, artists, friends, and activists.

“100 Blue Hats for Change,” as it’s called, invites the public to fill in the blank blue space – both on the hat and on the wall – with what they wish to see America become again.

Photo: Red Art Projects

Quality Mending’s Instagram account has been chronicling the Blue Hat project with portraits of participants wearing the hats that they customized  by completing the open-ended slogan. Followers may recognize some familiar faces of the neighborhoods, art, business, community, both past and present.

Since its installation, the empty blue space  now reflects the uncensored vision of the general public. Hopeful, Necessary, Healthy,Sane, Loving, were just a few of the hundreds of words  scrawled on the community-based art wall. 

Harkness and Sullivan hope that it will help create a big blue wave for today’s primary election.

While Quality Mending will be moving on from Elizabeth Street, Harkness hopes to be back in the neighborhood with another storefront filled with fine vintage threads. Sometime in the near future

Here’s a short video the collaborators put together to promote the public project.

Recent Stories

Late Photographer Corky Lee Gets Mural Treatment on Doyers Street

There is a new tribute mural in Chinatown that honors the memory of beloved photographer Corky Lee. The nascent Chinatown Mural Project is behind the new artwork, which stretches along a 35-foot wall on Doyers Street, the nerve center of Chinatown. The mural is two-toned – blue and off-white – and meant to resemble “Ming” […]

One Year Later, ‘Fiore Escape’ COVID Sessions Still Captivate

One year after first captivating passersby at Essex and Grand Streets, the free fire escape concert series is back for another. Indeed, musician Jill Fiore will perform anew from the second floor of her Essex Street tenement (above Delancey Car Service). The next so-called “Fiore Escape” show is slated for October 15, as announced on […]

Parks Department Installs Fence at Allen Mall Bathhouse in Response to Nadja Rose Madder

The Parks Department is upping the ante on deterring a homeless artist from painting and gathering at the Allen Street Bathhouse. Earlier this week, the city began assembling an eight-foot chain-link enclosure to (partially) fence in the sidewalk plaza. It is on this spot that transgender artist Nadja Rose Madder has been transforming the brickwork […]

Extell Residents in Cherry Street Tower Bark Foul Over Abundance of Dogs Despite No Pet Policy

Residents of Extell’s “affordable tower” at 227 Cherry Street are barking foul over the proliferation of pitbulls, despite the no-pet policy. We are told by current tenants that leases contain a strict stipulation prohibiting pets in apartments, and that management (Wavecrest) seems deaf and/or slow to act about the apparent violations. By some estimates, there […]

Aggro Panhandler Hurls Brick at Pickle Guys Worker in Brutal Attack

An aggro panhandler outside Pickle Guys on Grand Street attacked an employee after he was asked to move away from the store entrance, cops said. The suspect had been aggressively begging at around 8:20am last Wednesday when the 63-year-old worker told him to disperse. That didn’t sit well; the pugilist picked up a nearby chair […]