If you ever stroll down Broadway, the whimsical chalkboards outside of Astoria Wine and Spirits and Astoria Bier and Cheese are likely to have caught your eye. Those imbibing critters and familiar cartoon characters are the work of artist Caryn Cast, whose paintings will be on display at Astoria Wine and Spirits during the Astoria Art Festival.
Caryn was one of the first employees at the shop after having moved to Queens from Nashville, Tennessee almost five years ago. “I was drawing wine tags at first, and then it turned into drawing chalkboards,” she says. Now Caryn’s murals enliven the walls at the wine shop and both Bier and Cheese locations. “I’m really lucky, because they let me get crazy in there,” she says.
In the last few years, Caryn’s paintings and illustrations have become political, but all of her work – chalkboards included – reflect her sense of humor. “I want some of it to be nostalgic and some to be hilarious,” she says about her inspiration. “This community is well versed in culture. I want people to stop and chuckle a little.”
Each chalkboard drawing can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to create, depending on the level of detail, and they last about a month. “Sometimes late at night I’ll walk by a chalkboard and see it has a smudge, and if I have chalk on me, I’ll fix it,” Caryn laughs. Her talent has gained attention, and Caryn now does chalkboards for other businesses on Broadway.
This will be the second year Astoria Wine and Spirits joins the Art Fest, but Caryn’s first year participating as a contributing artist. “Art makes a community, and I’m excited about what’s happening in Astoria,” she says. “There’s a lot of talent in art here, and I think people need a place to show it. The Astoria Art Festival provides that. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
View more of Caryn’s work at: CarynCast.com