CITYarts, a not-for-profit that partners local youth with professional artists, unveiled its latest mural Monday, October 7, in Harlem’s Alexander Hamilton Playground. Alongside acclaimed lead artist Hugo Bastidas, the youth of CITYarts created the 338th mural project, Following in the Footsteps of Alexander Hamilton Year III. The mural celebrates the history of Alexander Hamilton and embraces the diversity of the neighborhood through its vibrant colors and lively intertwining of flora.
Actor Malcolm Franklin performed songs from the hit Broadway show Hamilton, having all the youth, CITYarts staff and local NYC Council Member Mark Levine join in on the dancing. Every Voice Choirs opened the programming for the ribbon cutting.
“This mural is all about inspiring the community to reach high for the stars and to do their best as they become actively involved in changing and transforming their playground, their community, their school, and impacting their lives. This is what Cityarts is all about,” said Tsipi Ben-Haim, Executive and Creative Director of CITYarts.
“Art has such a power to impact the lives of young people, and arts education should be part of every young person’s life. We don’t have that in every school,” stated NYC Council Member Levine. “So to have a non-profit like CITYarts who can provide that after-school time, and outside of the school building, here in a public space, is so impactful for the kids and now for this community, which is going to have this inspirational work of art to uplift them in this space…It’s going to tell kids that their community matters, and hopefully encourage more young people to pursue the arts, and make even more great works like this.”
This project was led by artist Hugo Bastidas, widely known for his black and white artistry, who worked with the local schools, community youth, artist’s assistants, volunteers, local residents and The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), to create the vibrant mural.
“It was joy working with young artists and putting something into the community,” lead artist Hugo Bastidasnoted. “It has been an amazing experience for me personally. By and large it’s about community giving and I got a lot from the joy that everybody else has experienced from it.”
Alexander Hamilton Playground is located at Hamilton Place and West 140th Street in Harlem.