Brazilian art duo beautifies downtown Manhattan with ‘vibrant’ new mural

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Brazilian art duo Douglas de Castro and Renato Perrieria, completed their vibrant mural Saturday afternoon as part of the inaugural event for Incite MHK. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Brazilian art duo Douglas de Castro and Renato Perrieria completed their vibrant mural Saturday afternoon as part of the inaugural event for Incite MHK, a local group dedicated to celebrating public art and working to find ways to bring more public art to Manhattan. The mural now adorns the side of the building facing AJ’s NY Pizzeria at the corner of Poyntz Avenue and Third Street.

Chad Bunger, Manhattan city planner and assistant director for community development, said the mural reveal was a special and emotional experience, made more so by sharing it with his family.

“It was a flood of emotions,” Bunger said. “Honestly, super proud to know that we pulled something like this off for the community.”

Curiously enough, Bunger, who helped start Incite MHK, described himself personally as “not artsy at all, probably the furthest thing from it.”

“But I very much see the value of public art and unique things in our community that make our community better,” Bunger said.

The project and its completion was a work of collaboration.

“It’s been a real team effort between a lot of different groups of people to make this happen,” Jeff Sackrider, another founding member of Incite MHK, said.

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Dena Bunnel and Jeff Sackrider enjoy a slice of pizza in front of the new mural. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Sackrider said Incite MHK started with a small group getting breakfast at The Chef once a month earlier this year and discussing what they could do to make Manhattan better.

“We all kind of had a passion for art, and just kind of quickly came together that creating public art was something we were all interested in,” Sackrider said. “And you know, nobody else was doing it. So why don’t we see if we can make it happen?”

Incite MHK chose the art duo Bicicleta Sem Freio through Just Kids, a global creative house that curates and produces international art projects. The Portuguese name of the group translates to “Bicycle without Brake.”

Perriera and de Castro are from in Goiânia, Brazil. The two said they had been drawing since they were kids and met studying graphic design at university. Their mutual mural partnership has spanned the past several years and numerous countries.

The duo has painted murals all over the world — in London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles — but this week in Manhattan was their first time painting in the snow.

This was the first time they got to see snow in their lives, Perriera said.

“This was amazing for me,” Perriera said.

The kaleidoscopic mural, which de Castro designed for Manhattan, features a person studying with flowers and a meadowlark springing from the open book. The two completed the mural over the course of five days, from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2.

De Castro said what he loved most about art is the freedom it allows him to have over his work.

“I feel lucky because I work with what I like, and I feel free,” de Castro said.

Perriera added he wanted to thank the community for the opportunity and hopes people enjoy walking down the street and seeing their mural.

Bunger said Incite MHK has ideas “rolling around in their brains” for new undertakings for next year.

“One of the cool things about this whole process has been people saying, ‘Oh I have this great idea’ or ‘Oh I want to be involved,’ which is amazing and is exactly what we wanted to happen with this first project,” Bunger said.

Sackrider also welcomed local property owners, artists and volunteers interested in the organization to reach out. Additionally, the mural would not have been possible without the grant from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Diehl Community Grants Program, which funded three-fourths of the $40,000 mural, Sackrider said.

“It’s this bright, unexpected, vibrant mural and we really hope that we can create some momentum behind this now and incite other people to want these kinds of things,” Sackrider said.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the assistant culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.