On the Bowery graffiti wall, Groundswell is nearing completion of the newest mural the street art site has seen in a year designed by artist Raul Ayala with a team of ten youth artists The last piece, by Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama “Matzu” was completed in September of last year. The mural for 2020 coincides with the 25th anniversary of Groundswell, an organization that uses art for change.
Equidorian-born Raul Ayala has said, “For me, building imagination and sharing knowledge alongside a younger generation of artists is a great manifestation of the fruits of this shift. With this mural, we are also bringing intergenerational participation into a future that honors our past while actively creating a different path of existence.” Based in Brooklyn, Ayala has been worked previously with The Laundromat Project, as participating in its 2013 Create Change Professional Development Program. He was also selected to be in the 2017 Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, was the recipient of the 2016 Artist as Activist Residency of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and has been involved in the Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artist of the New York Foundation for the Arts.
The new mural at the Bowery graffiti wall, located on Houston Street between Bowery and Elizabeth streets, incorporates numerous portraits of Black figures and also has a seafaring folklore theme with mythical creatures pulling down statues. On the left side, the skyline of Manhattan appears.
Embedded in the under layer of the mural are a series of symbols, both numbers and letters. Some of those symbols were still visible in the areas that were not completely painted yet. The youth painters are now working together to complete the mural on the Bowery graffiti wall and tell us that the piece should be done by early next week. This muralists, known as “artvists” in this work are: Gabriela Balderas, Charlize Beltre, Brandon Bendter, Junior Steven Clavijo, Jennifer Contreras, Maria Belen Flores, Hafsa Habib, Cipta Hussain, Karina Linares and Gabriel Pala.
Groundswell Executive Director said in a statement, “This partnership with Goldman Global Arts is the perfect way to kick our Groundswell’s 25th Anniversary! At Groundswell, we believe that reflecting on our complicated past and present conditions is necessary bring about the world we want to see. Raul Ayala’s work in collaboration with our incredible youth ‘artivists’ embodies this liberation philosophy by artistically telling the story of our ongoing fight for social justice and the importance of activism that is rooted in love and creativity.”
The Bowery graffiti wall was first painted by Keith Haring in the 1970s. The wall is owned by Goldman Properties, who has left it as a place for street art commissions. According to Goldman Properties, “With ownership of the wall, the Goldman family felt a sense of responsibility to bring art and beauty to the public on a grand scale. Through this initiative, the Houston Bowery Wall invites established and emerging street artists from the United States and around the world who have a powerful message of inspiration, possibility, and hope.” This is not the first collaboration between Groundswell and the Bowery Wall — the 2013 Hurricane Sandy-themed mural by Swoon was another.
While visiting the Bowery graffiti mural, also check out the redwood tree just down Houston street!