Jersey City Mural Arts Program Gets Rolling Downtown
Downtown Jersey City got a splash of color on Tuesday when artists Jason Maloney, Bigfoot and Ron English kicked off work on a new mural at Hudson County Art Supply. This project, the first in a proposed series of murals to be painted by well-known local and national artists throughout the city, is part of a citizen effort to make the municipality a destination for contemporary art.
The creator of this “celebrity” series, Dylan Evans — a longtime city resident and lover of street art — began developing the Jersey City Mural Arts Program to “draw media attention, which would bring in visitors and stimulate the local economy.”
Jersey City’s own Ron English needed little convincing to be part of the project, and enlisted the help of California artist Jason Maloney and New York’s Bigfoot to carry out the first mural.
The three artists started work around 11 am, sketching out motifs in chalk over Hudson County Art Supply’s stucco brick facade. There was no definite design in place when they started to paint; each artist came with his own ideas and the desire to make the mural work as a whole.
Soon the sidewalk was littered with cans of spray paint, and curious passers-by stopped to watch the action.
Greg Brickey of Jersey City Cultural Affairs came by to see how the painting was progressing, and later Mayor Healy, City Council President Mariano Vega and Ward E candidate Guy Catrillo stopped by to say hello to the artists and show support for their work.
Although the city did not have a part in the planning of this first mural, Evans hopes that he will have the opportunity to work with the municipality on the development of future projects. If all goes well he hopes to launch the first city-endorsed project later this spring with the aid of Cultural Affairs and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, though he is still working out details with both offices.
“It’s cool that the mayor came by; that’s a sign of city support,” Evans says. “I hope that it will lead to more collaboration and potential funding in the future.”
The mural at Hudson County Art Supply was funded completely through private sponsorship. Skateboard company Hurley paid for Bigfoot, Maloney and a photographer to travel to Jersey City for the event. John McInerney, the owner of Hudson County Art Supply, donated the space for the mural as well as all the paint needed to complete it.
For McInerney, the project was about drawing public attention to the cultural assets of Jersey City.
“Do you know what it takes to get New Yorkers to Jersey?” he asked. “A 30 foot mural by famous artists! So that’s what we did.”
By Tuesday night the painting was complete, and the formerly blank stucco wall at the corner of 1st and Coles Streets had been transformed into a technicolor jungle — the first of many to come.
For more on the mural series, check out Evans’ blog.