ATLANTIC CITY — A gray, rainy Monday morning may have stopped some paint from hitting the walls, but it didn’t stop the muralists gearing up to start the 48 Blocks Atlantic City’s Mural Week from sharing their colorful ideas.
“It’s all part of the game,” said artist Charles Barbin. “It’s the outdoor painting game.”
Four of the six artists who were selected to participate chatted inside the Noyes Arts Garage on Monday morning when their locations were announced. While many saw the rain as a challenge, most were confident they could navigate the weather to get their pieces completed in the five-day schedule.
The five locations across the city where the artists will complete large-scale murals will be a bar, a liquor store, a restaurant, a former industrial supply store and a motel.
Barbin, who has beautified his hometown of Brigantine with murals showing bright flowers and red foxes, will team up with artist Mark Chu, who splits his time between New York City and Atlantic City.
The two met at the Atlantic City Arts Foundation’s December ARTeriors event, one in a series of pop-up art exhibits that transform empty properties into an immersive visual experience.
“That’s how we met: beautifying the same space with different projects. Now, we’re going outdoors working on the same project,” Barbin said.
Last year, Barbin painted a colorful sea of jellyfish that still swim across the building at 7 S. South Carolina Ave. Chu painted a realistic chicken that stands on the side of the Vietnamese restaurant Com Ga Ninh Kieu.
“I’m not a huge team person, but I like Charles,” Chu said. “We understand each other without needing to even to talk about it.”
Together, they will take on one of the five murals by transforming a white wall at 13-17 N. New Jersey Ave. into a colorful streetscape that Chu said will harken back to the city’s heyday and hopefully breathe life into the North Inlet.
“There’s a kind of tranquility about this area, and it’s good to put some color in there,” Chu said.
48 Blocks, a partnership program between the Atlantic City Arts Foundation and Stockton University, started ushering murals into the city two years ago. Working with business owners and city officials to identify and secure blank spaces, the effort started with about six to 10 murals in 2017 and then 25 last year scattered across the entire city. All the artists came into the city at different times and painted whenever they wanted.
This time, organizers wanted to have all the artists working in the city at the same time so residents and visitors could track the transformations.
“It really shows a direct investment in the community that people really appreciate,” said Loryn Simonsen, the communications director for the arts foundation.
They selected the artists this year with a focus on people who have a connection to Atlantic City and also people who would bring a new artistic vision to the city.
“It’s also been really great for the artists that are living and working in the area. Creating opportunities for artists just creates more opportunities.”
Each muralist has a different way they plan to approach their canvas.
Glenn Taylor, of Mays Landing, carefully taped together his design of Sammy Davis Jr. following the straight lines of a numbered grid that divided the famous Rat Pack musician into more than 500 boxes.
The 70-year-old artist and sign painter plans to transfer the design to his wall box by box. If Davis’s eye is in the box, that’s what gets painted — nothing more nothing less.
“It’s like a GPS,” Taylor said. “It just kind of let’s you know exactly where you are all the time. It’s not a guess thing.”
With that grid ready, he’s not worried whether he can convert the small design into one of the city’s murals.
“I can work big,” Taylor said. “I know how to make stuff get big quick.”
Taylor’s first job painting he made a sign for a neighbor who paid him in sub sandwiches. Now he will paint a large mural on the side of Pizza King on Atlantic Avenue.
“I guess I’ll be eating a lot of pizza,” he laughed.
Denton Burrows, a muralist from New York City, has an interesting wall at the Best Liquor store on Pacific Avenue, because some of it is set back 5 to 6 feet.
He wants to use the unique design to show a man sitting on the wall . He will also paint plants at the bottom that will sync up to the actual plants there while leaving some natural brick exposed.
“I think it’ll be a cool contrast to the work, which will be super solid color, bold, and it’ll really pop off the wall like crazy,” he said.
Chu also plans to pay attention to the space in the neighborhood but keep the people of that area in mind.
“Here you’re thinking about what will the public — hopefully in three years, five years, 10 years — what will they still enjoy or appreciate or keep seeing to be mysterious?” Chu said.
Barbin, armed with flood lights, said he and Chu planned to wait out the weather and get their idea started Monday night.
“We’re ready to paint at night, around-the-clock, whatever it takes, weather permitting” Barbin said.