ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
From left, Vanessa Scrivani, artist Miss Zukie, artist JPO, and RAW Arts member Michael Aghahowa work on the mural at City Hall Square during the Beyond Walls Mural Festival on Friday.
By MATT DEMIRS
Thanks to artists JPO and Miss Zukie, the wall at City Hall Square has been overrun by new friends.
Centerboard, meet the zukies.
Beyond Walls muralists John Paul Ogrodnick and Alison Perez (working as JPO and Miss Zukie, respectively) painted about 100 of the colorful figures on the side of the nonprofit’s building as part of the 10-day festival transforming Lynn’s downtown.
Miss Zukie told us what the zukies are.
“Zukies are a fluffy and chubby character that don’t talk,” the Peru native said. “They communicate with facial expressions and thought bubbles.”
This hasn’t been the first time JPO and Miss Zukie have teamed up. They’ve recently completed a 60-by-15 foot mural alongside each other in the Bronx.
JPO has had a wide range of fun while in Lynn, from street painting to karaoking Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” at the White Rose Coffeehouse on Saturday.
“It’s been such a good time. This community is awesome,” he said. “Going into it I heard Lynn has had a bad rep but realistically, the people have been so welcoming.”
That warm embrace and interest from the public is different from other places where JPO has worked. In New York City, there usually aren’t crowds admiring his work, but passers-by in Lynn linger to talk, and cars honk as they drive along the work site.
“I’ve never experienced that type of painting before,” he said. “In New York and Miami, there’s already a lot of art on the wall and people are used to it. They just don’t care.”
Centerboard CEO Mark DeJoie said he loves the vibrant mural and the colors it brings to his building. The organization is a community based organization that supports families and young people through housing, access to employment, and education.
JPO, who began SOLD Magazine back in 2016, a publication dedicated to street art, has been an artist for more than five years, but never received a formal education.
“Everybody has an artistic side to them but they are intimidated or shut down early in life to think they are not a good artist because they can’t draw a life-like, photo-realistic drawing of somebody,” he added.
He admits he could never draw a realistic portrait of somebody or do an oil painting of a landscape, but he’s still an artist who lives off his work.
“You just gotta have fun in life and enjoy what you are doing.” he said. “That’s what I do.”
Matt Demirs can be reached at email@example.com.