The Belmont Business Improvement District and its partners brought a new mural to the borough’s ‘Little Italy’ community.
The mural, recently painted on the side of a building at Hughes Avenue and Fordham Road, features ‘A Bronx Tale’ actor, writer and creator Chazz Palminteri, and a number of characteristics that make the popular neighborhood unique.
Acclaimed street artist ‘Mike.A’ painted the mural at a very visible Arthur Avenue location.
The brick ‘canvas’ extends 21 feet high and 103 feet long, and it took 22 gallons of white paint, four gallons of black, and 115 cans of spray paint to complete, said Mike.A.
“It is amazing how many people pull over just to take a picture with it,” said Frank Franz, Belmont BID executive director, adding the BID was looking to put something on the wall that brought joy to visitors.
The mural improved a particular wall which was frequently the target of graffiti vandals, said Franz.
It took several hurdles, including obtaining the property owner’s approval, to get it done, he explained.
“We wanted something light and positive,” said Franz of the mural, adding that the BID soon seized on the idea of including A Bronx Tale as one of the themes, as the movie is arguably the best known depiction of Belmont.
After receiving Palminteri’s blessing, he was depicted on the mural against the backdrop of a cityscape with a line from the movie script that reads: “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”
Palminteri stopped by the mural on Easter, Sunday, April 16 to give his seal of approval to the painting, said Mike.A.
Mike.A. was selected to work on the commission after he was recommended by Gail Nathan, Bronx River Arts Center’s executive director.
Mike.A, who was assisted by fellow artist Ron Rundo, grew up near White Plains Road and East 233rd Street and is Italian-American.
Aside from a thriving street art business, the artist said he worked in the corporate world as a creative director and art director for about 17 years.
The mural also includes a depiction of a pepper and tomato, a nod to the Italian heritage of the community where many people worked in the produce industry, as well as directions to Arthur Avenue and a mention of Arthur Avenue’s recent recognition as one of America’s greatest streets by the American Planning Association.
The mural took more 13 days to complete, and so far has received rave reviews, with an official dedication ceremony planned for a date likely in May, he said.
“It makes you smile,” he added.
Franz concurred, saying that the BID was not looking for anything ‘too deep’ but rather an uplifting visual that can bring a smile to the face of passing schoolchildren or people on their way to Arthur Avenue.
The artist, who creates window art for businesses and murals, recently completed another mural in the borough at a gas station on City Island.
You can see more of his work on Insta