Haring-Inspired Mural In Pioneer Park
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
A few years ago, Angel Garcia had just completed what he described as an anti-racism mural, “balanced with positive imagery,” at New York City’s Dual Language Middle School on West 77th Street.
“The theme idea was to create a mural that would explore the topic of racism – and healing,” said the Brooklyn artist, who will be creating a mural in Pioneer Park this summer in connection with the Keith Haring exhibit that opens May 29, Memorial Day Weekend, at The Fenimore Art Museum.
He was leaving the school soon after it was completed, and there, in front of the mural, “was one student explaining the imagery to another. They were using the mural to educate each other.
“It was beautiful moment,” said Garcia, now 29, a prolific artist whose opus to date includes 10 public murals in New York City and many individual canvases.
The Fenimore’s president, Paul D’Ambrosio, said the idea of commissioning a mural downtown in connection with muralist Haring’s exhibit came out of staff brainstorming during the grant application process.
“Everybody loved the idea,” he said. “We couldn’t put the (Haring) artwork downtown. But we could create one.”
A wooden wall will be built in Pioneer Park’s left-hand corner. After the Haring exhibit closes, the mural will become part of The Fenimore’s permanent collection, D’Ambrosio said.
Calling Pioneer Park, in Cooperstown’s center, “an urban little park,” Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch said she’s excited about Garcia’s undertaking – she had a chance to meet the artist a couple of years ago at a Fenimore reception in New York City.
“It’s a wonderful way for the village to work cooperatively with The Fenimore,” she said.
The village wrote a letter of support for the state grant that funded the project, she said, adding, “I think public art is wonderful; it will be great to continue something like this going forward.”
In an interview from Brooklyn’s Groundswell, which, in collaboration with young people and arts educators, has produced 500 public murals over the past 25 years, Garcia said he was born in Chicago, spent his first few years in Mexico, then returned to the U.S. with mom Araceli and sister Evelyn when he was 7.
“I’ve always been interested in art and art-making since I was a young child,” he said. “Things really started to take off in high school.
After school programs to create murals piqued my interest to pursue art further.”
He began working at Groundswell while still in high school, continued while he obtained his BFA in illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology; he’s still there today.
The collaboration with The Fenimore began “very spontaneously” two years ago when he received an email, Garcia said. “They mentioned they would work with me to create a mural to go with the Keith Haring exhibit. That’s how the conversation started.”
The outcome, he said, will be “a little bit inspired by Keith Haring’s style,” as well as Cooperstown themes.
“As related to public murals,” he said, “I enjoy the whole process of it. I enjoy the research part, speaking to folks in the community, researching the community, creating a design that reflects all those things.”
Finally, “I enjoy painting; it’s a very meditative process.”
Garcia said his murals are influenced by Diego Rivera’s, and Kerry James Marshall influenced his painting.
“A final (mural) is very rewarding,” Garcia said, “both as an artist, and seeing how the public interacts with the piece.”