Arts in Parts Does Their Part

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To Restore Bus Stop Murals

Esther Grillo’s bus stop murals are getting a facelift, but first they needed a good cleaning. On Wednesday, April 27, Grillo received some help from a group of kids from the creative nonprofit Arts in Parts who cleaned up the Beach 85th Street mural.

Grillo painted her bus stop murals back in 1997. Vulnerable to the elements, the murals have lost their sparkle and Grillo is hoping to bring it back. Always looking to involve children in her projects, Grillo attended a recent Rock Soup meeting in hopes of finding a helping hand to clean up the  Beach 85th Street mural before she restores it. Grillo linked up with Arts in Parts and about two-dozen children showed up to help clean. With gloves, sponges and mops in hand, the children went to work to clean up the mural, which has been damaged over the years by skateboarders, bicyclists, Hurricane Sandy and general wear and tear.

The kids came out during the spring break to help with the project. “We’re having spring break workshops focusing on leaving places and people better than we found them though picking up litter, giving compliments and helping the community. We are trying to do our part because the kids are inheriting what’s being polluted. The opportunity to help a local artist was really exciting because we’ve worked on murals with the kids before but this is something that they drive by every day and will continue to drive by,” Arts in Parts co-founder Heather Kramer said. “I always try to bring kids into these projects because then they have some ownership over it. Kids from the community helped me paint these originally. These murals are points of pride for the community,” Grillo said.

Grillo says this is the third restoration project of the murals over the years. She is in discussions with the Parks Department to have the murals waterproofed so that her work isn’t repeatedly damaged. In the meantime, she will be restoring one of the least damaged murals. “You have this beautiful new boardwalk but all of these murals are damaged. I’m trying to do one at a time. Since this one at Beach 85th Street was damaged least after Sandy, I decided to start here. By next week, everything will be painted and sparkly again for at least a year,” Grillo said, explaining that on May 5 at 10:30 a.m., she would be repainting the Beach 85th Street mural along with a team of volunteers from an advertising company. After the Beach 85th Street mural, Grillo has plans to restore the surfer mural on Beach 107th Street, as the Parks Department says it has funding available for this project. She then plans to wait to restore the other murals until something is done to ensure they won’t deteriorate so quickly. “I want them to look good but I don’t want to waste energy. These are Rockaway icons and people don’t want them destroyed,” she said.

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