(NEWARK, NJ) -- Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined Javier JimÃ©nez, Mayor of San SebastiÃ¡n, Puerto Rico, Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement Jacqueline Quiles, Director of Arts & Cultural Affairs fayemi shakur, Newark Municipal Council Members, Greater Newark Convention Visitors Bureau President and CEO Ricardo Salazar, and artist JosÃ© R. BeltrÃ¡n Ramos "Flavor" to unveil a new 500-foot long mural on Mt. Prospect Place between 2nd and Mt. Prospect Avenues in Newark's North Ward on December 2, 2022. The two municipalities signed a "Sister City" agreement in September 2021.
"Fotos y Recuerdos" - which means "Pictures and Memories" - features a filmstrip that spans the length of the block, using each frame to highlight landmarks, events, and traditions of the City of San SebastiÃ¡n. The artwork includes vivid renderings of San SebastiÃ¡n's City Hall and History Museum, Hacienda La Fe Agricultural Museum, the CoquÃ, a species of frog that is native to Puerto Rico, destinations such as the Gozalandia Waterfalls, and more.
"Our mural projects have been one of our administration's major public arts efforts, beautifying our city with the works of many talented artists, some from our own neighborhoods. These murals tell historic stories of diverse peoples who have come from around the world to become part of Newark's future. It has been a privilege to collaborate with so many artists in bringing these works into reality and to unveil Mr. Ramos's artwork today," Mayor Baraka said.
Mr. Ramos is a graffiti-muralist from the Puerto Rican town of Aguadilla who began his career in 1988. His work has been displayed in many cities around the U.S. and several cities in the island of Puerto Rico, predominantly in San SebastiÃ¡n, Aguadilla, and other areas in the west. He also serves as the official muralist for the municipality of San SebastiÃ¡n.
He currently leads and chairs the HotCru, Inc. group, a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating disadvantaged communities or places of neglect.
"I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me to participate in this great endeavor and to do what I love to do. This has been a great collaboration between our great cities," Mr. Ramos said. "I believe it was a great idea to bring a little bit of San SebastiÃ¡n to the City of Newark as part of our sister cities' relationship through images that depict our beautiful city. Even though I wasn't born in San SebastiÃ¡n, I feel like a true 'Pepiniano,'" referring to how natives of San SebastiÃ¡n are called.
The artwork was made possible by Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement Jacqueline Quiles, and the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs. It was further supported by the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, Commercial District Services (CDS), and Invest Newark. The project was managed by Randy Hayes Harris of North Newark. Assisting artists include Mark Hartmann and Luis Lopez.
"I am extremely proud of our work as a team, which is proof of what is possible when art and cities come together. Newark and San SebastiÃ¡n have demonstrated this today," said Deputy Mayor Quiles.
"We were thrilled to be able to provide site preparation support to our municipal partners at the City of Newark and Newark's arts community with this creative place-making project. Murals have proven to be an effective way to leverage the creative talents of local artists to beautify public spaces while creating a sense of place for residents and visitors alike," said Chris Bernardo, President and CEO, Commercial District Services LLC.