Brightening the Bronx: How one artist’s work paints the borough a new tone

Alex 'The Bronxer' Rivera
Photo by Ashanti Muñiz/@CreateShanti

The Bronx has been overdue for a brighter, much needed cultural renaissance, according to one artist in the borough.

He’s 27-year-old Alex “The Bronxer” Rivera, the central Bronx’s own graphic illustrator, author, designer, muralist and creative in just about any other discipline there could be — and it has been The Bronxer’s mission to literally bring enlightenment into his home.

That recent vivid awakening has come by way of a “journey” of vividly done wall murals throughout the borough, various beer can designs with the Bronx Brewery and two bilingual children’s books, “Bronx Tones” and “Bronx Shapes” among other unique and elaborate enterprises.

In his own words, these projects have juxtaposed the Bronx’s “dull, monochromatic scenes against a vivid array of colors” and has been reinventing the borough’s perspective on happiness.

An outdoor painting session done by The Bronxer.

“What is happiness in the Bronx? It’s not the wrongful perception of liquor or drugs but instead, unique individualism and perhaps a new way of thinking, an ideal which my work promotes,” Rivera said. Everyone is art and it’s time to bridge the gap between a plethora of untapped potential in the Bronx and other places have which become overshadowed by what appears underseen and overlooked.”

That’s what served as The Bronxer’s inspiration to use hot-toned “Miami colors,” which “are chosen to emanate difference” and show the borough in a new, glowing color pallet that has seldom shown up in past times around the Bronx’s open spaces.

The Bronxer works on an elevated wall mural. Photo by Ashanti Muñiz/@CreateShanti

Though Rivera said the Bronx’s natural, urbanistic state is critical to his artistic work.

It is those “hood colors” which provide inspiration for contrasted murals and other works, just like at his painted gate outside Boogie Down Grind Cafe in Hunts Point.

That’s a project which demonstrated more than just “hood colors” but also some “brick by brick” history as a longstanding building, he said.

“While working on this gate, I noticed it still has a bullet hole puncture from many years ago and that’s when I truly began to wonder about all this corner has seen over the years and how it’s future will change, hopefully for the better through the intercession of art,” Rivera said.

The Bronxer’s mural on Boogie Down Grind Cafe in Hunts Point. Photo by Ashanti Muñiz/@CreateShanti

For the Bronx to undergo a cultural change for the better, Rivera believed that his home needs more local art neighborhood by neighborhood to show residents that “creativity doesn’t only happen in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but also and especially right here in our home.”

To support that initiative of “creative equality,” he founded his own company, The Bronxer LLC, which acts as a platform to “uplift and encourage” aspiring artists whom have not yet appeared in a large cultural spotlight, many of whom are from the Bronx.

More independently, The Bronxer continues his robotic themed works which bring a “fresh taste of current and constant nostalgia” in various mediums, the most popular being detailed illustrations.

“Fleet Bot” by The Bronxer

He is also continuing some detailed hushed works throughout Miami, Florida and on the island of Puerto Rico, projects which will be more feasible in a post-pandemic world.

The Bronxer works on a wall mural in Miami.The Bronxer

Until then, The Bronxer continues to inspire a fresh and original perception of the Bronx and its art culture.

The Bronxer’s work can be seen and followed on two separate Instagram pages: @thebronxer and @thebronxer.art.

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