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Fine art: New S’Park mural celebrates neighborhood’s history, diversity

Community creation: Sunset Parkers collaborated with an artist from Groundswell, a local organization, to create a mural celebrating the community’s industry and diversity at the entryway of Bush Terminal Park.
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Call it a community creation.

Sunset Parkers celebrated the unveiling of a new mural, which they helped create to celebrate their neighborhood’s history, industry, and diversity, gracing the entrance to Bush Terminal Park on 50th Street and First Avenue on Aug. 3. The mural’s lead artist said the work was important because it helped unite the community by highlighting locals’ shared past.

“A mural like this is important because it informs the community about its history and diversity,” said Angel Garcia, an artist at Groundswell, a Gowanus-based organization that pairs artists with locals to paint murals throughout the city. “It can help build pride of living in Sunset Park and a sense of belonging to the neighborho­od.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation — a quasi-governmental agency tasked with growing the city’s economy — partnered with Groundswell to create the vibrant mural, which spans about half a block and depicts people of various ethnicities and features of the neighborhood’s working waterfront. Garcia painted most of the mural over a two-week period, but said that community members shaped it by voicing their artistic ideas at community meeting last month.

“The inspiration for the mural came from the community input session we had early on in the project, when people said they wanted it to focus on jobs, history, and the neighborhood’s different cultures,” he said.

An image of a rooted tree is meant to emphasize the neighborhood’s rich history as a melting pot — a message also evoked by the image of a woman sewing a flag, according to Garcia.

“The fabric she’s sewing has patterns of different cultures, which represent the fabric of the neighborhood and the fabric of America,” Garcia said.

About 30 locals also helped paint in the bottom panel of the mural — depicting 19th-century settlers arriving in Sunset Park — during a community-painting day on July 21.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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