By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society, the Hispanic Family Center of Southern NJ (HFC), City of Camden officials, and residents of East Camden will officially debut a new vibrant mural on the corner of Westfield Avenue and 27th Street above the Bank of America with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, October 6 at 2:00 p.m.
The organizations worked closely with local business owners and residents to create a signature mural with themes celebrating diversity and generational growth.
Pilar Hogan, Executive Director of Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society, shared how the community helped develop ideas for the project.
“East Camden is a vibrant community, and this mural certainly brings some of that energy and color to this corner,” Hogan said. “It was exciting to hear people’s ideas and impressions of their community as we talked about what was important to be reflected in this piece of art. Helping to paint and seeing things develop was an amazing process and Cesar’s ability to bring this to life is captivating.”
The mural contains many East Camden landmarks and is part of a broader beautification initiative on the commercial corridors in East Camden. The initiative will create a more welcoming corridor, preserve, and celebrate the diversity of East Camden, improve perceptions for residents and visiting customers, enhance the appearance of the neighborhood, and increase resident satisfaction with neighborhood open space.
The final mural design was created by artist Cesar Viveros whose work includes murals in Philadelphia and Camden and who knows how important community involvement in public art is.
“[Public art and murals] have to involve the community,” Viveros said. “You can tell a lot about a community through its murals and its art. You have to allow people to be a part of its creation — not just ideas about what should be in it, but the actual painting.”
Viveros and fellow artist Daniel Fermán created panels for the mural at a Federal Street warehouse before volunteers gathered in teams to fill in the colors.
The mural features historic East Camden landmarks such as the Woodrow Wilson High School columns, the Federal Street Bridge, and images that represent much of the housing stock in the neighborhood.
The bright mural is already catching many local business owners’ and residents’ attention.
“I was standing outside the barbershop across the street and a gentleman who appeared to be a barber from the establishment came out and asked if I work for the bank (a tenant of HFC),” Carlos Cartegena, Executive Director of the Hispanic Family Center, said. “I stated that I just work for HFC. He then commented on how wonderful the mural looked and how it’s nice to look out and see it from the window. I believe that is the message that we want to give. Our community’s reaction to a work of art that depicts community, togetherness, pride, humbleness, and culture. And the fact that we have their approval. That is humbling.”
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