Artists and Kids Team Up for Avenue D Mural

Photos by Tim Schreier. Second photo: Veng. Third photo: Moise Joseph. Seventh photo: Sofia Maldonado and Carlo McCormick of Paper. Eighth photo: Mista Oh and Sofia Maldonado. Ninth slide, left to right: Chris Serrano, Mista Oh (Jerry Otero), H Veng Smith, Sofia Maldonado, Moise Joseph, Crystal Gonzalez, Robin Cembalest (editor Art News), Alicia Prieto

The group that scored a $5,000 check from street artist Retna has added a new mural to the East Village, and The Local helped make it happen.

Jerry “Mista Oh” Otero, who runs Cre8tive YouTH*ink, said that a resident of East Fifth Street, Liezl Van Riper, contacted him after seeing our piece about Retna’s donation, and asked his Gowanus-based organization to create a new mural for a wall that was once the domain of Chico.

“The wall directly across from her building was inadvertently painted by the city’s anti-graffiti program,” said Mr. Otero. “It was done by Chico – an outdoor scene of some sort. It was up for 10 years.”

Mr. Otero gathered nine teenagers from Manhattan and Brooklyn to work with visual artist Sofia Maldonado and street artist H. Veng Smith (a.k.a. Veng), and together they created the work you see here. The mural on the side of the Lora Deli and Supermarket at Fifth Street and Avenue D is titled “The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 2: Organic New York.”

“The whole idea was to pair inner-city kids with working artists to teach them something while producing something,” said Mr. Otero. “Our purpose was to bring a sense of nature to an empty space that was lacking it.”

The project was funded in part by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which each year provides over $500,000 in grants of up to $5,000 each to support arts programming and community engagement initiatives around Manhattan. According to Kay Takeda, the Director of Grants & Services at the L.M.C.C., the group supported 180 projects this past year.