(NEWARK, NJ) -- GRAMMY Museum Experience (TM) Prudential Center along with proud founding partner, Prudential Financial, Inc., the City of Newark, Yendor LLC and Al-Munir LLC announced on July 19th the unveiling of a mural spanning three walls, to celebrate the dynamic culture and history of music in the City of Newark. The newest mural installation is the third of five murals planned for the city.
Located in Newark’s North Ward, the 1,630 square-foot mural will be the backdrop of the community garden, Jannah on Grafton that provides the surrounding community with access to fresh produce, while promoting agriculture, music and cultural education.
Newark-based artist Yasmin De Jesus, who hails from Newark’s North Ward, the location of the mural, was selected to design and create the third installation, using over 15 gallons of spray paint and working 114 hours for completion. The mural is located at 29 Grafton Avenue in Newark’s North Ward.
Installment of the mural began in mid-June, with an official unveiling event set for July 22, 2021 at 5:30pm ET. The in-person event will feature remarks by Mayor of Newark, Ras J. Baraka; Newark’s North Ward Councilman, Anibal Ramos; Senior Vice President of Business Operations at Prudential Center, Natasha Moody; Vice President, Inclusive Solutions and President, The Prudential Foundation, Shané Harris; one of the urban farmers at Jannah on Grafton, Policy Analyst and CEO of Al-Munir LLC, Bilal Walker; Yendor LLC Representative, Malcom Rolling and Mural Artist, Yasmin De Jesus.
The live ribbon cutting ceremony will also feature live performances from New Jersey based cultural music and dance groups, along with food trucks and more.
Al-Munir LLC, founded in 2016 by Bilal and Breonna Walker, provides unique services including, children’s educational programming, youth initiatives and creative placemaking, as well as marketing and consulting services for local government, schools and grassroots organizations. The Black Muslim and Newark-based consulting group facilitates the creative placemaking project, Jannah on Grafton to create sustainable food systems and environmentally conscious job training in the North Broadway neighborhood. Al-Munir LLC seeks to revitalize the Grafton Avenue and North Broadway neighborhood by providing targeted nutritional support to the community’s most underserved families and residents. In addition, the staff, who support Jannah on Grafton’s daily operations, work to rehabilitate their neighborhood through resource distribution, youth development and parent advocacy. Jannah on Grafton’s arts and culture initiatives are tightly connected to visual and performing arts, having opened their garden to Newark’s Arts Council’s Creative Catalyst recipient, Vibes in the City during their No Place like Home Festival last summer.
The economic and intangible benefits of public art are well known, including the power of murals to celebrate the unique and rich cultural history of a place, while transforming spaces that increase foot traffic and tourism, and contributing to the growing vibrancy of a neighborhood. This collaboration adds another colorful thread to the exciting revitalization happening in Newark and honors the city’s rich musical roots. Prudential Center and Prudential Financial Inc. worked in partnership with Yendor LLC and Al-Munir LLC to create a backdrop that highlights the historical music culture of the City of Newark, while giving back to the community through supporting the efforts of Al-Munir LLC and Jannah on Grafton.
“We, at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, are thrilled to celebrate the dynamic music history and culture of the Newark’s North Ward and surrounding community,” said Natasha Moody, Senior Vice President, Business Operations, Prudential Center. “It is an honor to bring this mural to life alongside the Prudential Financial, AL-Munir LLC, Yendor LLC and through Yasmin’s artistic expression. This mural serves as a powerful reminder of the strength within the surrounding community’s roots in music, culture and history.”
“We work closely with our partners to identify and support creative solutions to the various challenges facing our neighborhoods which includes supporting the arts,” said Shané Harris, Vice President, Inclusive Solutions and President, The Prudential Foundation. “This is another great opportunity to celebrate and highlight the talent in our community.”
“The creation of murals that document the lives, history, dreams, and achievements of Newark’s residents has been an integral part of our administration’s work to enhance our city’s luster as a center for the arts and empower our city’s talented artists,” Mayor Baraka said. “Created by local artist Yasmin De Jesus, this mural will do more: it will be the artistic centerpiece of a community garden that also provides its neighborhood with nutritious food and cultural education. This is the kind of collective action we want to create a more educated, equitable, empowered, and collaborative Newark.”
“Greenspaces create opportunities for community members to gain access to locally grown food and green job training. Moreover, our gardens are safe spaces for cultural celebrations and advocacy,” said Bilal Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Al-Munir LLC. “We honor the histories of Black and Brown people by replicating the agrarian practices and diets of our ancestors and celebrating life as we have always done -- through food, music , and dance. Our ultimate hope is to acquire this property from the City of Newark and create a food focused business and sustainable food system in the North Broadway Community. With continued support from the City of Newark we hope to create greater opportunities for food equity in North Newark.”
“Grafton is full of Afrocentric and Caribbean colors, music, and energy. So naturally, the design became a reflection of that community. Out of the dark background, colorful shapes and lines dance to the music, creating images of hip-hop dancers and Jazz musicians,” said Mural Artist, Yasmin De Jesus. “Looking back, I realized that's what Jannah on Grafton represents, Life and energy bursting from darkness and dirt. A paradise in the city of Newark. All of it is connected to headphone cords unraveling through the painting and revealing musical genres and terminology through calligraphy. Just as one pair of headphones can play numerous songs and genres, so can one community garden provide a sanctuary and nourishment to many. That's been my experience throughout this Mural process and what I hope the community derives from this work.”
Built and operated by Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, the 8,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum Experience (TM) is housed within Prudential Center. The Experience marks the first GRAMMY Museum outpost to be built on the East Coast and, similar to the original GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, the Experience is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music, and the cultural context from which it emerges, while casting a focused spotlight on the deep musical roots of New Jersey. The Experience features a dynamic combination of educational programming including Summer Session, “Spotlight Series” and “An Evening With Series” and interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, including a spotlight on legendary GRAMMY winners from New Jersey.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness leader and premier active global investment manager with more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management as of March 31, 2021, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century.