Sending A Message: New Graffiti Wall Mural Takes Shape in Peters Park

By Seth Daniel

Sherice Lewis-Thompson stands in front of the mural that bears her resemblance at Peters Park on Saturday, May 20. Lewis-Thompson is the model for the woman’s face depicted in the mural by ‘Gio’ Ortega and his mural crew, which includes several young people too.

The smell of spray paint and the formation of new faces and figures has been the highlight in Peters Park over the last week as muralist Genaro ‘Gio’ Ortega brought in his crew of muralists and young people to create a new image on the graffiti wall and officially retire the former mural, ‘Soul Revival.’

The latest effort comes 10 years after the previous mural, and in cooperation with the City, Washington Gateway Main Street and the Old Dover Neighborhood Association. Soul Revival was created primarily by Victor ‘Marka27’ Quinonez and Robert ‘ProBlack’ Gibbs, of the African Latino Alliance Collective (ALA), both instrumental in choosing the new design and new artist.

Jennifer Effron, of Washington Gateway, said they were excited to see the mural take shape. The effort came through many efforts, including a fundraising ‘keg party’ held at Banyan Refuge earlier this year to raise money for the mural.

“Washington Gateway has been really excited and honored to be part of the process that went into the latest mural installation,” she said. “Working together with the artists, other community groups, the local businesses and the City to make the crowd funding campaign a great success has been a rewarding experience. This is the kind of collaboration that really makes a community.”

On Friday, the crews moved in to prime the wall a black color and begin outlining the new figures.

By Saturday afternoon, the entire crew of muralists and young people learning the craft from the masters were working hard.

One thing that is similar, Gio said, was the face of a woman – which was at the center of the ‘Soul Revival.’

“We have kept the figure of a woman, kind of honoring the last mural that was here, and we used a model whose kids are participating in the mural and someone who is connected to this area,” he said.

Another key part of the new mural is the presence of birds, which artist Lee Brand could be found creating on Saturday.

Gio said the birds are messengers, carrier pigeons.

“To us, they are sending out positive messages,” he said. “That was a big part of the original wall here and we want to remember that. It’a big part of the foundation in this wall and what was done before.”

Sherice Lewis-Thompson serves as the model for woman at the center of the new mural.

She said it has been humbling to watch it come together and know that it’s a representation of herself.

“I’m humbled I could be a part of it and bring back another mural,” she said. “I grew up here and walked past this every day. I used to watch them work on the murals. I still walk past here every day and now I’m going to be looking at myself every day.”

Muralist Wiso, who grew up in Villa Victoria, has worked on several murals on the wall. On Saturday, he was busy teaching younger kids how to plan out their artwork on the wall, and how to use the proper techniques with the spray cans.

“I’m glad to be part of this again and to be part of this concept and hopefully spark a conversation in the community,” he said. “It means something to see people thinking about the mural. What does it mean to them? We hope it gets people talking. The critical part for me is the young people.”

Such a focus by Gio and his crew wasn’t lost on the young people either, who were really excited to be a part of the project – which has a unique history in Boston and in many parts of the state when it comes to graffiti art or street art.

Reina Quinonez, the daughter of Marka27, participated in the mural last Saturday.

“I guess I’m just really excited,” said the teen-ager with a laugh, before getting back to her painting.

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