The Morris Park mural project is now officially part of the fabric of the community.
The murals which adorn an Amtrak underpass on Bronxdale Avenue near E. Tremont Avenue were painted by Morris Park youth with the assistance of a professional artist provided by Bronx Council on the Arts and funding from Senator Jeff Klein.
The colorful creations are based on a design contest for children in Morris Park and other nearby schools last fall and winter.
The contest winners – children from P.S. 108, P.S. 83, St. Francis Xavier, St. Clare’s, St. Raymond Elementary School, and P.S./M.S. 498 – then joined professional artist Ali Irizarry in painting the murals this spring.
Senator Klein, who sponsored the contest, was on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 10 for the new murals, which replaced graffiti splattered walls underneath the pedestrian overpass.
“These students really did a tremendous job submitting thoughtful and meaningful portraits of what Morris Park means to them.” said Klein “They were able to capture some of the most positive aspects of our neighborhood – primarily, that it’s a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Klein added that he’s been “proud to call Morris Park home since I was a kid. I’m glad to see that so many kids in our community feel the same way today.”
Joining Klein were Community Board 10 district manager Jeremy Warneke, Morris Park Community Association president Al D’Angelo, business leader Sonny Vataj, relator and 80th Assembly district candidate Mark Gjonaj, BCA executive director Deirdre Scott, Will Pedone of Van Nest True Value Hardware at 669 Morris Park Avenue who sold the paint for the project, additional members of the Morris Park Business Alliance and several other local community leaders.
“These murals help people take pride in their community, and take this area that was strewn with garbage and turn it into a great community asset,” said D’Angelo. “We thank Jeff Klein for this because it is good for both the children and the community.”
Vataj said that for as long as he could remember, the sidewalk with pillars underneath the rail line, had been strewn with garbage and debris.
“As a young man I remember walking up this corridor and it was like a corridor of horror because there was always garbage and it was always very dark.” said Vataj.
Among the young Warhols and Rembrandts at the ribbon cutting were Anthony Dellacamera, 14, and brother Joey, 11, whose signature piece in the mural was “The Best of Morris Park.”
Joey Dellacamera described working with the artist as challenging, especially with rain that did not dampen the effort to spruce up one of the entrances to the Morris Park community.
“Working with the artist was fun because before she started painting she told us how to mix colors and what colors it would make when we mixed certain colors,” he said.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393