It’s a work of art.
On Friday, September 7, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and Groundswell, a not-for-profit organization that brings together artists and local communities, celebrated the unveiling of a newly painted mural in Bush Terminal.
The celebration was slated to take place this past August, but was postponed due to rain.
Groundswell lead artist and Brooklyn resident Angel Garcia fabricated the 118’ x 15’ mural with the help of the community and Groundswell alumni.
“It feels great to have this mural in Sunset Park, especially since I grew up here,” he said. “It’s nice to paint a mural in the neighborhood that kind of resonates with the community. It’s a mural about the people that live in the community right now. It’s also about the history of Sunset Park. The neighborhood is very diverse. It was a fun research process, speaking to different community members and painting it in two weeks.”
Groundswell reached out to different organization in Sunset to have them send members to talk about topics that concern the community during a community engagement workshop to help steer the direction of the mural.
“We had a good turnout,” Garcia added, explaining how the mural took shape. “We had chart paper and wrote down different topics. The main topics that arose from those conversations was the history of Sunset Park and its representation and diversity of it.”
With the help of Groundswell alumni, he went on, he drew up a list of ideas “based on the conversations we had and the list we had. With those images and ideas, I then went and created the final design.”
Director of programs at Groundswell Eric Miles was impressed with the finished product.
“I think people intrinsically want to tell their stories,” he said. “A lot of the sentences started with, ‘I’ve been here for 38 years.’ People want to tell their parents’ stories, and I think people really enjoyed being at the workshops. They had brainstorming sessions around what the waterfront has meant historically to this community and how that has evolved over time and how folks want this waterfront, both economically and as a parks resource, to be revitalized with the community in mind.”
“A lot of people use the park and see the property when they’re walking by, but this creates a tangible interaction,” added Julie Stein, senior vice president and executive director of Sunset Park for EDC. “They can come and see their work and feel part of this thing that’s meant to be a public benefit.
“When we were talking to the councilmember about what is important and what we want to show here, we really were thinking about access to waterfront, not just waterfront jobs,” she went on, “and we wanted to make sure the mural reflected that value that sort of underlies all the work that we do and also spoke to the history of the neighborhood.”
After the brainstorming day, over 100 people gathered to help paint the design, an act that Garcia hopes unifies the community.
“It was really satisfying, especially when we were painting, because a lot of people went to the park,” he said. “They stopped by and mentioned they really like the mural and found something that resonated with them. My favorite part of painting murals outside is interacting with the community members that walk past and appreciate what is being done.”
Menchaca also commented on the colorful mural.
“What better way to represent the community than through a mural that expresses people’s history?” he said. “It has so much packed in about the history of this community. It’s so beautiful that a visioning process came to a city property like this that’s about jobs and the future of the economy, but also about celebrating our own history here in sunset park. We need mor