Before 2016 slips away, we want to return to a story that got a lot of attention a few weeks ago.
On Nov. 7, the owner of a building at 232 East Broadway painted over the Jewish heritage mural that had been a Lower East Side fixture for more than four decades. Rob Kaliner, the new property owner, said he did it out of concern for pedestrian safety. He told the New York Post that pieces of the mural could have fallen off and injured someone. There are plans to demolish the office building next month in preparation for a new residential complex on the site.
Lots of news organizations picked up on the story, which was first reported by The Lo-Down. The Post’s headline read, “Residents livid after Jewish heritage mural painted over.” But now Kaliner and some of the people involved in creating the mural years ago are coming together to, hopefully, establish a new community-oriented art work somewhere else in the neighborhood.
Kaliner told us recently that he felt terrible about the way events unfolded last month. Sara Krivisky, one of the students who took part in the original project, was initially very upset that the mural was erased with no advance warning. But she and others tell us they’re encouraged by recent developments.
If you go by the Bialystoker building, you’ll see a photo of the mural and a message from Tsipi Ben-Haim, director of CITYArts. Her not-for-profit group spearheaded the creation of the original musaic, which represented scenes from the Holocaust, Ellis Island, the massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, sweatshops, labor unions and the Jewish Daily Forward. The message reads:
We hope to engage the youth of the past with the community youth of today to recreate the Jewish heritage mural on another site. We invite all the interested members of the community to help us in any way possible, including: planning, painting, fundraising, marketing, etc. Thank you for caring.
There have already been some conversations. Krivisky has been reaching out to some of the other students. One of the first steps will be identifying a location on the Lower East Side for the new mural. The group is planning to reconvene next month.
If you are interested in taking part in the new project, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about CITYarts by visiting the organization’s website.