Hidden murals Larger-than-life panoramas adorn Jersey City

A colorful mural that spans nine buildings on Christopher Columbus Drive stands to be one of the casualties of a popular plan to revitalize sections of the Newark Avenue business district. The mural is one of many that bring color to the city, despite the fact that most of the passersby do not know their origins.

The Christopher Columbus Drive Mural runs between Grove and Barrow streets. It was completed on Halloween 1997 and has been a visible icon for residents and commuters since then. It includes images of past and current Jersey City landmarks including the Colgate Clock, the Statue of Liberty, and an old city ferry.

But the recently passed Newark Avenue Redevelopment Plan states that the mural will be maintained only until a new building or new façade work commences under the guidelines of the plan.

With the possibility of this large-scale painting fading into oblivion, the public may have to act quickly to see it. It was painted by at least 20 local artists and student interns as part of a Newark Avenue façade restoration project by the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

And it’s not the only mural in town that was a group effort.Mural majority

Murals can be seen all over Jersey City, some more famous than others. They include:

The interior walls of the Hudson County Courthouse at 583 Newark Ave.:

Renowned muralists Edwin Howland Blashfield, Kenyon Cox, Francis Davis Millet, Howard Pyle, and Charles Yardley Turner were commissioned by architect Hugh Roberts to decorate the interior of the courthouse, which includes images of the Dutch and the English first settling in Hudson County.

Wall on south side of Public School 5 on Third Street:

Painted on the Third Street Side of Public School 5 in downtown Jersey City is a small mural that honors those who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The original version of the mural was created on the spur of the moment on August 14, 1945, the end of World War II, by three young men who lived within blocks of it. Over the years, others have added to it.

Parking lot of City Line Church at 1510 Kennedy Blvd.:

The mural known as “The Way of Life” was commissioned by the church’s pastor, Joshua Rodriguez, where local artist Duda Penteado worked with several painters to complete it in November 2005. It consists of a series of images influenced by verses in the Bible. The feeling is mural

“It’s hard work doing murals.”

And Duda Penteado should know. The Brazilian painter has worked on at least two in the United States since he emigrated from his home country in 1996.

One of them is the Way of Life mural at the Cityline Church. Penteado said the project provided “a very interesting education” as he worked with 20 artists.

“You spend three to four months with so many different personalities while you are working on the mural,” Penteado said. “There are so many interpretations that you have to mesh into one vision.”

He said he met with Pastor Joshua Rodriguez about what he wanted to see in the mural.

“He wanted to show how church leaders play a role in creating a better community and create great character in people,” Penteado said.

Penteado said the process started with choosing the artists, by reviewing their work. Next, workshops were held with the students to flesh out their artistic ideas and how they were going to commit them onto a canvas.

Finally the walls of the church’s parking lot were cleaned in order for the painters to apply professional “mural paint” that is used for projects of this kind.

The mural contains a swirl of images from street signs inscribed with biblical verses to humans relating to one another in harmonious ways.

Penteado looks back positively on the creation of the mural.

“It was a great partnership [with the pastor] because he allowed me to fulfill the role of the artist as the challenger,” Penteado said. Comments on the story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com


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