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STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Painting the Town Rainbow The World Mural Project brings queer public art across the city BY KELSY CHAUVIN

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ride comes in many colors. For 50 diverse international artists, those colors will be sprayed, brushed, and splashed across all five boroughs as part of the World Mural Project (worldpridemuralproject.org). The project is one of the cultural highlights of NYC Pride in this milestone year, when the community marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. The commemoration also introduces WorldPride to the US for the very first time — a sort of Olympics of Pride that occurs every two years in different cities — and with it comes a wide array of concerts, rallies, parties, and ever more reasons to rejoice in all things queer. The World Mural Project is a WorldPride NYC/ Stonewall 50 highlight that stands apart from much of the revelry by bringing LGBTQ-inspired street art to 50 sites. Created uniquely by different artists painting in designated spaces, each mural portrays a story or visual that honors the LGBTQ community. The project also helps compensate for a notable lack of LGBTQ public art in New York City, which is limited to just a few pieces. Among them are George Segal’s 1980 “Gay Liberation” sculptures in Christopher Park and Jo Davidson’s 1923 statue of Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park. Of course, plenty of queer art can be viewed in collections and exhibitions — and year-round at Soho’s Leslie-Lohman Museum, and the city has just announced a West Village monument to longtime activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. For the mural project, the organizing team at NYC Pride sought to use art to reflect the community’s beauty, struggle, and strides. “Having WorldPride in the US for the first time, NYC Pride really wanted to provide not just events but a cultural experience for people coming here from around the world,” said Cathy Renna, an NYC

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ANGIE LM

Sam Kirk and Jenny Q’s mural tribute to Victoria Cruz on Second Street at Avenue A.

PHIL DEMBINSKI

Artist Sam Kirk.

ANGIE LM

Jenny Q working on the Victoria Cruz mural.

Pride spokesperson. “The way to do that was to create a physical manifestation of all the diversity in our community, and have that not be just in one neighborhood or one borough — they’re all over. The wonderful thing is you can go to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and see very diverse public artworks made by an extraordinary set of LGBTQ and allied artists.” To help recruit the 50 artists and secure the mural sites, NYC Pride worked with the LISA Project, a non-profit that began turning Little Italy into a mural-arts district back in 2012. Their work has now grown well beyond Mulberry Street

COURTESY OF BUFF MONSTER

Artist Buff Monster.

and was integral to organizing the World Mural Project. “The LISA project is really on the vanguard in working with muralists and urban artists,” said Renna. “They put the call out to the artist community, and they got tremendous response from individuals who are incredibly established in this medium.” Among them is local artist Buff Monster, whose murals are all over New York and other cities. His newest piece now adorns an enormous, 31-by-94-foot wall at 125 Chrystie Street, at Broome Street, in Chinatown. Titled “Rainbow Harmony,” his brightly colored characters and trademark one-eyed creatures rep-

resent the struggle and triumph of the LGBTQ community. As an ally, Buff Monster said he’s proud to show solidarity, along with a dose of optimism that can “fill a need for color and brightness” in an urban environment. At 152 East Second Street at Avenue A, Sam Kirk and Jenny Q, two women who are artists and partners, painted their tribute to Victoria Cruz on a 10-by-33-foot residential wall. Cruz is a Puerto Rican transgender woman who’s lived in New York since age four and devoted much of her life to activism dating back to the Stonewall

➤ WORLD MURAL PROJECT, continued on p.5 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc

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June 20, 2019