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Re: To Beautify Vacant Buildings, Group Looks to Murals
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This. Philly's mural project works and this has been in in many other cities and countries including Europe. Considering how many artists we have in this city it should not be hard to go through with this.

Posted on: 2013/8/14 21:17
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To Beautify Vacant Buildings, Group Looks to Murals
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Matt Hunger

The decrease to home value, the site of criminal activity and vagrancy, an unsightly blemish on a neighborhood — these reasons and more are why Jersey City has spent so much time and effort to fix up vacant buildings in the city. Indeed, an ordinance was passed to hit absentee owners of these blighted properties where it hurts: the wallet area.

Now the Jackson Hill Main Street Special Improvement District is taking strides to address the problem in a different way: if coercion doesn’t work, why not paint over the problem? Indeed, in a literal sense, that is what the SID’s cultural affairs committee is doing in an effort modeled after a Philadelphia success story.

“Philadelphia’s sponsored mural program brought art from downtown to blighted areas and included street artists and professional mural artists,” says Alvin Pettit, an artist working on the mural project (photos of his work below). “That was funded by the city and became tourist attraction. That’s the model we hope to follow.”

But Pettit is well aware of the city’s financial straits, and though he says Mayor Steve Fulop looks committed to helping to devote more attention and resources to Ward F, there is only so much money to go around.

“We’re looking to find private donors to go with whatever government funding we can get for the paint,” adds Pettit, who is currently working on a mural on the Dunkin’ Donuts building located at the MLK Hub. While this building isn’t vacant, it’s located in a section of town that can use the artistic uplift. “This is an area that has been blighted for the past twenty years. It’s a high crime area with boarded up buildings and storefronts.”

It also helps that, when funding is tight, the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts is helping to fund the project, he says.

Right now the program is in its earliest stages. “We’re identifying the wall spaces we want to paint first,” explains Pettit. “Then finding which property owners will allow us to put up a mural.” Fortunately most don’t have a problem, he adds.

The aim is to have a full list of walls to be painted identified by the fall, which will come from a 2-mile stretch of area of abandoned buildings. “That’s a lot of walls,” he says of the challenge of deciding where a mural will be best utilized.

The program stems from the number of artists in the area who do not get the exposure they deserve, says Michele Massey, the head of the SID and the former Ward F Councilwoman.

“We started this arts and culture collective [which will be painting the murals,] because there are so many artists in our immediate neighborhood and throughout the district,” she says. “We thought it’d be a cool thing to bring everyone together and to start to do some things in the community that spotlight arts in general.”

The plans don’t end with murals, she says, noting an interest in creating urban sculpture gardens of recycled and re-purposed objects.

Massey is hopeful the city and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency will be help find some money for these projects, as the area falls within a Redevelopment Plan that has an arts overlay zone written in.

“We want them to be a partner in this,” she says.

In the meantime, some photos of the early stage murals can be found below.

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Posted on: 2013/8/14 19:56
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