Artists, locals create Black Lives Matter mural outside the Owl’s Head

A Bay Ridge bar has joined the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Saturday, June 22, the Owl’s Head, 479 74th St., created a 15-foot-long mural dedicated to Black Lives Matter and welcomed locals to help complete it.

The mural was created following several protests and rallies, three of them in the Bay Ridge area, after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last month.

One of the artists, Jenn Maloney, discussed what the day and project meant to her.

“John Avelluto, of the Owl’s Head, asked me to create a mural supporting Black Lives,” she told this paper. “We wanted to involve the community, so we gridded out the [Black Lives Matter] logo and invited the community to help us paint it. We also asked people to write the names of victims of police brutality since 2014 on the wall. It was an inspiring day. So many families came out to participate.”

Photos courtesy of Jenn Maloney

“As a white woman, I am trying to do my part to be more than non-racist – I’m trying to be actively anti-racist,” Maloney said. “I’m trying to call out injustice where I see it. I’m listening to the stories of my black and brown friends and colleagues. White people can no longer sit back and think that this fight is not our fight to fight. It’s our turn to step forward and do the work to bring about equality – real equality, not theoretical equality. This mural is a just a small step for me on a long journey, but I’m committed to doing my part.”

Avelluto also discussed the day.

“I was very happy with the turnout and to see the range of hands involved with the process, from community leaders to children,” he said. “I have to really thank artists Jennifer Maloney and Isabelle Garbani for lending their talent to facilitate the process.”

“Hats off to John Avelluto and Michael Marfione, co-owners of the Owl’s Head wine bar in Bay Ridge for sending a powerful message with this new mural outside of their business,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

Photos courtesy of Jenn Maloney

Maloney said that the names listed on the mural are minorities killed by police since 2014.

“We started with Eric Garner and ended with George Floyd,” she said. “Tragically, it’s a very long list. People took turns writing names. People told us stories of people they knew or read about who they wanted to add to the list. Parents were explaining the names to their children. It was a moving experience.”

She also discussed the importance of the NYPD.

“The whole time we were working, the police were on the block making sure we were safe,” she said. “That’s an important part of the story too. Our message isn’t anti-police. It’s anti-police brutality.”

Photos courtesy of Jenn Maloney

“Beautiful tribute but sad to see so many names,” wrote one Facebook user.

Having the mural in Bay Ridge was significant to Maloney, who attended high school in the neighborhood.

“Bay Ridge is a diverse population of people, all of whom are very proud of their own heritage,” said Maloney. “Bay Ridge also has a large population of police, firefighters, nurses and educators – people on the front line of our current pandemic. Its diversity is what makes it so special. Unfortunately, with that diversity we also see pockets of ugly racism and ignorance. My experience on Saturday was one of support and unity. I saw the best in Bay Ridge that day.”

Photos courtesy of Jenn Maloney

Photos courtesy of Jenn Maloney

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