Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, the Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee, and the City of Hoboken are proud to present the recently completed “Art Box Mural Project” which beautified 15 utility boxes along Washington Street. Artists who live or work in Hoboken were selected by the arts committee to paint the murals reflecting various themes related to “equality and inclusion”. The Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee, chaired by Hoboken resident Chris O’Connor, was formed as the result of an Executive Order signed by Mayor Bhalla to help select and recommend art projects to beautify public spaces in the City of Hoboken.
Below is information about the artists, and descriptions of the murals on Washington Street in their own words.
Lawrence Ciarallo - Struggle of a Lifetime
89 Washington St.
Lawrence Ciarallo is an artist, designer and muralist. His work is an eclectic mix of portraits, pop art and mixed media that are inspired by the endless beauty that exists amidst the chaos of daily life.
"I chose my design to honor Rep. John Lewis who passed away as I was developing my concepts. I could think of no better way to reflect our theme of equity and inclusion than with a tribute to him. Mr. Lewis dedicated his life to the principle of non-violent, democratic action and his "good trouble" quote was a perfect explanation of those values. It is important to remember that the struggle for social, economic, racial and gender equality never ends. As Mr. Lewis so eloquently reminds us "this struggle is not a struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime."
Sayeed A. Syed - Clear Skies
101 Washington St.
Sayeed A. Syed is a self-taught taught artist using all types of mediums including pencils, oils and acrylics. Mr. Syed has a background in chemical engineering in the Aerospace industry. Born in small town of Mulbagel in South India, he found inspiration for his art in Indian history books.
“‘Clear Skies’ depicts an African boy dancing in the rain for freedom. Through a child eyes, no matter what race, religion or region, when it rains, they see clear skies. They see the joy when adults see a gloomy, unfortunate wasted day. I want to send a message that we should always see the beauty of each day like we once did as innocent children. The world may have stripped us of that, but not our optimistic outlook on the world."
Anita Torres Milena - Universal Lotus
201 Washington St.
Anita is a Colombian artist who has done individual exhibits in Germany and Colombia as well as numerous exhibits with other artists in Europe and Latin America. She worked as a professor for over 10 years in Colombian Universities lecturing Art History and Illustration techniques.
"We are all part of this universal diaspora where each one plays an important role in our community. This reality allows us to be authentic, free, regardless of differences but taking into account our roots. This is how we become a strong and inclusive community. I am using the Lotus mudra, symbol that means to open the heart: the flower floats on the surface and its roots are deep in the mud, remaining firm and strong; its beauty emerges from the darkness. This work is a metaphor for light and fairness in the midst of chaos."
Kelli Glancey – Mile Square Celebration
301 Washington St.
Kelli is a part-time assistant professor at Parson’s School of Design in NYC.
“Visual inspiration first came from the playful festive paper cutouts of Henri Matisse in confluence with my own passion for color. Color is a universal language, ‘read’ and interpreted by the viewer based on subjective aesthetic, gender, beliefs, psychological + symbolic meaning. The Hoboken narratives in the piece celebrate our rich history of diversity and community. From joyous occasions such as our cultural Festivals to the more recent challenges in response to Hurricane Sandy, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, Hoboken rises to the betterment of ALL.”
Chesleigh Meade - Venuses of Hoboken
425 Washington St.
"One of my favorite pieces of art has always been the Venus figure. This figure has been made by many different cultures across many different regions throughout history. I find the creation of like things without contact from one another to be one of the most human things. Some things are just so ingrained that they pop out of civilizations over and over again. Creation, compassion, nurturing, and feeling connected are just some of the themes I tried to address in this piece."
Matthew Dean - Hoboken United
537 Washington St.
“Hoboken is a true community. Living here, I’ve felt the impact of being part of something bigger - a place where everyone is seen, heard, and respected, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, gender or politics. We treat one another as equals, with love, kindness and understanding. We are all colors, we are all shades, and we are ALL different and diverse, but when we come together as a community, we have the power to create a better humanity - together.”
Kyla Harvie, Chloe Rousseau, Penny Preston & Sergio Sandino - We Are All Related
707 Washington St.
“Our design represents the shared love between all cultures. There is no knowing of which hand is sharing the heart and which is receiving the love. That is what represents equity. On the sides, it shows all the hands rising up to help each other. The words on the box "Mitakuye Oyasin" means "we are all related". This quote was taught to us in our school. It means that we are all different and individual, but we treat each other as if we are part of the same family and deserve the same respect and love. We are so grateful for this opportunity as it gave us kids a chance to use our voice for the better.”
Greg Brehm - Home Sweet Hoboken
801 Washington St.
“I loved this project from the moment I heard about it. It presented an opportunity to beautify Hoboken and to make a meaningful statement about equity and inclusion — topics I feel really strongly about. I can’t claim that I’ve come up with anything super-profound, but I’ve really tried to create something subtly meaningful that will also induce a smile in those that see it. We could all use a smile these days.
I’ve been really touched by the outpouring of enthusiasm that people expressed while I was working on my mural. Kids, in particular, were loving it. A bunch of people were already doing walking tours to take them all in. You have to give a nice tip of the cap to the city and the Arts Advisory Committee. This is just a cool project.”
Mher Khachatryan - We are together
900 Washington St.
Armenian born and New York based artist Mher Khachatryan's interest is the beauty of the smoke and fire, the life and death. He escapes the limits of the real world through his art. As a youth, Mher studied in Yerevan at the Art school of Hakob Kodjoyan. He began private art lessons at the age of five.
“This painting is about how I see and understand life. We are more alike than we are different. We all come from the same source and return to the source. I don't see us as different races, rather different ethnicities. We are all children of God, we all laugh, cry, love the same way. It doesn't matter our religion or sexual orientation. We Are Together. God doesn't have favorites, we are all his children and we are all Loved. Hoboken is a diverse community and very much like a big family. I'm happy to be part of it.”
Eleanor Sgaramella - Love is Love
1001 Washington St.
“I chose my design because it represents a social issue that is immeasurably important to me: the representation and visibility of LGBTQ+ persons. During my time at University, I was the Vice President of the Gender Sexuality Alliance and some of the elements we worked hardest to improve were the representation and visibility of our community. With the opportunity to put my design on this utility box through the Hoboken Art Box Mural Project, I felt I was able to continue making strides in that battle. My design fits into the theme of Equality and Inclusion for similar reasons, especially with the main message across it reading “love is love.” Equality and inclusion are the focus of and are at the heart of my design’s message and were the objects of my inspiration. I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to participate in this project, as I believe it is so meaningful to have these beautiful messages decorating the streets of Hoboken on which I grew up.”
Raisa Nosova - Silver Mask
1039 Washington St.
“My work opens a platform for discussion on the topics of resilience, trauma and cultural displacement. I seek to bring awareness to the emotional baggage and the struggle that survivors have to conceal in daily life. I have been a part of the highly diverse city of Hoboken since 2013 and have been honored to meet so many who have gone through prejudice, discrimination, abuse and even war or genocide in their birth countries. These people do not share openly about their life experience but instead suppress the pain to move on with daily life. My large-scale oil portraits that have recently been transformed into street art in cities of Berlin, Milan, Larnaca (Cyprus) and now Hoboken, NJ are composed of individuals behind masks, communicating human strength and offering empathy to those who connect through a warm, deep eye contact. The viewer of any race, age or gender is able to relate to the masked faces in the works as the design of the masks are carefully put together to hide these differences and focus on the equity of humanity. It is extremely meaningful for me to offer this work back to the streets of Hoboken.”
Alison Josephs - The Hoboken Tree
1131 Washington Street
“‘The Hoboken Tree’ is based on a real life jaunty mini-tree growing on 12th Street. In the work, a myriad of birds perch on entangled branches, enjoying a complicated but harmonious sanctuary. Birds from China, Italy, India, Ireland, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Germany and Poland represent Hoboken’s deliciously rich and diverse ethic composition. The birds sing in different languages, but in chorus. This painted work, a gift to my Hoboken community, was really a gift to me. In a time of isolation due to the pandemic, to paint outside and socialize was a comfort, the corner became a meeting place: “Let’s meet outside at the Tree". I asked neighbors and passersby to collaborate, each helping paint a bird from their country of origin, telling me their history. Some came down having seen progress from a nearby window, stopped while walking a puppy or while taking their child to school. Others participating were very, very treasured Hoboken friends. “The Hoboken Tree” was most certainly created by the loving community that surrounds it.”
Michell Wang - Rainbow Connection
1301 Washington Street
“My mural is named The Rainbow Connection. One side is a smiling girl with rainbow lipstick and the other has a man with a rainbow mustache. The smiling girl represents how much we have achieved for LGBTQ community. The frowning man with a fist alerts us that we cannot stop here and we need to keep working towards ultimate equality and inclusion. The paintings are all black and white except for the rainbow lipsticks and mustache, which symbolizes the joy and pride from being a part of the LGBTQ community. I moved to Hoboken this March. This mural project absolutely brought me closer to the city and made me feel a sense of belongingness.”
Theme of equality and inclusion reflected in art box murals
Equity is fair mindedness and egalitarianism, decency and balance. Inclusion encompasses all, leaving no one or group marginalized or on the fringe. An equitable and inclusive city is one where the inherent value and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive city promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.
About The Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee
The Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee is a group of local citizens–artists, merchants, organizational leaders and public officials–working to bring innovative, interesting and beautiful public art to the City of Hoboken. The purpose of The Arts Advisory Committee is to act as an advisory board to the Mayor and city administration relating to all questions involving public art and the City of Hoboken Art Program.
The Committee endeavors to find public art that will bring enjoyment to both visitors and residents of Hoboken and enhance the visual environment of the city. A commitment to bringing art work that embraces and celebrates the City’s rich culture and diversity which is paramount to the Committee’s work. The Committee believes the utility box project integrates arts and culture into the Mile Square and will help build community and promote economic vitality in a meaningful way.
Arts committee members:
Chris O’Connor, Chair
Jen Giattino, City Council President
Leo Pellegrini, Director of Health and Human Services