(Reprinted from The Tribeca Trib)
Construction fences, those ubiquitous features of the Lower Manhattan streetscape, do nothing to please the eye.
Except for one.
Stretched along the shady eastern edge of the sprawling 28 Liberty Plaza (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza) is a 120-foot-long fence-turned-canvas for a mural of flowing shapes and vibrant colors. A collaborative work of artists Marc Evan and Chris Soria, it is the visual embodiment of Sing For Hope, the organization that each year brings unique, artist-painted pianos to public spaces around the city, then donates them to schools and organizations.
Artist collaborators Chris Soria, left, and Marc Evan with their creation, the Sing for Hope mural. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib
“There’s this sense of joy and sweetness and connection that the painting brings to this corner of the plaza,” said Sing For Hope co-founder Camille Zamora as she surveyed the expansive mural. “Otherwise, it would just feel like construction.”
For the second year, the seven-year-old organization is being hosted by 28 Liberty. Fosun, part of a Chinese conglomerate, bought One Chase Manhattan Plaza in 2013 and is now reconstructing its plaza as part of a major overhaul of the property.
Zamora noted that the mural idea came from the owner. “They want to make sure that Lower Manhattan feels included in their plans and that this doesn’t feel like just one more construction project,” she said. A floor of the building is dedicated to Sing for Hope and its 60 pianos, now being reconditioned following a three-week stint in outdoor public spaces.
“We were trying to capture the vibe and the essence of Sing For Hope and the pianos project,” said Chris Soria, who often partners with Marc Evan on mural projects. (The artists, both 37 and teaching artists around the city, have been friends since age 12.) As muralists, Soria and Evan were selected to transform the fence from among the many artists who have painted Sing For Hope pianos over the years.
Blending into the waves of many shapes and colors are the figures of a sax player, a keyboardist and a paintbrush wielding artist. “There’s this magical realist vibe going on here,” Zamora said.
“It was our goal to activate the space using color and movement and figurative elements that emphasize the mission of Sing For Hope,” said Evan. “It was important to us to include figures that were engaging with the city, engaging with musical instruments.and with artistry.”
Evan said that he and Soria do much of their work in underserved communities, places where “bringing color to the neighborhoods is a fun challenge and experience.”
“Wall Street is a completely opposite end of the spectrum but it also suffers from a lack of vibrant colors,” he added. “And being able to bring a pop of color to this area, it’s cool.”