RAW artists go Beyond Walls

Anthonie Cruz, a member of RAW Art Works, working on mural at Zabota Adult Day Health in Lynn.

The youngest and only collective mural team in Lynn is packing up paint brushes as it finishes its last project of the summer at the Zabota Elderly Day Care Center on Exchange Street.

A group of eight encouraging artists, under Raw Arts’ Bruce Orr, blanketed the wall along the back patio of the center to best reflect the interests of the members and staff, who reached out to the Good2Go crew to complete the installation.

The senior citizens watched as the creative crew drew a picturesque scene including waterfalls, stone walls, and birds — a colorful and relaxing illustration, said one resident.

The ideas aren’t spontaneous. In fact, one area that makes the Good2Go crew special is the business side, which goes on before paint hits the wall, where the group meets with the client to hear their vision of the mural, said Orr.

Good2Go is run by Orr and gives young men in high school the chance to explore artistic expression through the arts, specifically by creating murals.They are one of the programs funded by a $15,000 grant RAW recently received from Wells Fargo. The group has completed three projects, including the mural at Zabota Elderly Care Center, the art installation as part of the Beyond Walls mural festival at the corner of Munroe and Washington streets on the side of Tacos Lupitas, and the mural at Shoemaker Elementary School created in spring.

Orr said they also worked on a project this summer, which they hope will be installed underneath the underpass in Central Square in Lynn, he said.

This mural, created entirely by the young men, communicates themes surrounding the topics of water, nature, life, home, friendship, and reflection, all of which the staff at Zabota envisioned.

One element to the mural involves birds and the messages they present.

“Many of the people at this home have come to America from other places,” Orr said. “The bird symbolizes the journey they have taken to get here.”

One team member, Elijah Fernandes, said the finished mural is a good representation of what the team was trying to illustrate.

The KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate freshman said the experience has taught him how to answer to clients’ needs.

“You can’t do mindless work when you are in this type of field where you are creating something for someone,” he added, saying the most challenging part is focusing on the task at hand and the overall picture.

Muralists, like Fernandes, find the program beneficial to them as artists because it provides them with real work experience, since the young men are paid.

He added that despite having only been in the group for less than a year, he has made many friends and understood the importance of teamwork.

The crew’s Senior Assistant, Anthonie Cruz, said one of the most difficult challenges is including the various artistic styles of each team member and blending them for the final product.

“I have more of a realistic approach to things, while other people like to draw cartoon-like or abstract,” he said.

The 18-year-old, who has loved art since a young age, said the opportunity at Good2Go has allowed him to break out of his shell as an artist.

“I was really shy with my art and I didn’t like to show off anything I created,” he said. “As I stayed in the group and grew as an artist, it made me feel more comfortable to express myself.”

Cruz, who has been in the program since he was a freshman but graduates after today, will go to Salem State University in the fall to pursue a degree in biology on a pre-med track, but said he has made huge strides as a person and artist.

The mural has taken five days of painting, two days of planning, and a rough estimate of 35 hours to bring the full project to life, Orr said.

“The client or artist aren’t going to feel good if you aren’t fully invested into the project. This mural right here is their work, something they created,” Orr said. “We really try to teach these kids how to have pride in their work and this program helps accomplish that.”

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