Wall opposite 1087 East Tremont Avenue, South Bronx, Queens
This wall is just opposite the Bronx River Art Center, where my friend Karen Jones was curating a show called “Environmentally Concerned II.” There are a lot of murals all around the area, but this one is especially good. It was made by a group of artists led by someone called “Ezo.” My painting was on a section of the mural that had been left unfinished. It was based on one of those nebulous Claude Lorrain classical scenes. Because I changed it quite a bit, I can’t figure out which one it was anymore.
People started coming up to me as soon as I started, probably because I didn’t look much as if I belonged to the neighborhood. A lot of people asked me if I was from Manhattan. When I told one girl that I was from Brooklyn, she said, “I have a cousin in Brooklyn.” She made Brooklyn sound a very long way away.
At the beginning of the second day, a boy came up to me and asked, “Are you doing that with respect?” I said that I was and he said, “Good, because if you weren’t, I’d have a problem with that. But I can see that you’re doing it with respect.” It was a good thing that he felt that way, because it turned out that I was painting on his brother’s section of the mural. His brother hadn’t finished it because he was too busy with his other commissions. My new acquaintance was worried about my graffiti career: “You’re doing it all wrong. It’s too small. You can’t even see it from a car. It takes too long. You’re never going to get anywhere like this.” His brother had a “dot com” now, he said, and was making good money painting signs for local merchants. He was also very concerned that I didn’t have a crew, so he stayed around for the rest of the day, keeping a lookout for the police. When he left, he said he’d send his cousin to look out for me, but he never came. I never figured out who his brother was. I got Ezo’s phone number from the Bronx River Art Center and sent him images to get the names of the artists who painted that section, but he never responded.
Late in the day, an old couple from Puerto Rico came by and said, “Finally, a good picture of Puerto Rico.” The last time I called the Bronx River Art Center, they told me that the painting was still there.