A neighborhood in Brooklyn just got a makeover not so long ago and we are here for it. This upgrade is composed of a beautiful mural painted by Don Rimx. But this mural is more than just its looks. It’s a mural that represents one of the largest hispanic populations in New York, the lovely Puerto Ricans.
Puerto Rico and its people are extremely relevant within the many streets of New York. I mean, New York is home to about ten percent of Puerto Ricans in the United States after all, so their prominence is bound to be strong in New York. This is especially true in the little neighborhood within Brooklyn named Williamsburg. Williamsburg, particularly Grand Street, is special to the Puerto Rican community because most of the businesses that run within the area are owned by boricuas. Therefore, a lot of them could associate the mural with themselves and their roots.
This mural came about when a Grand Central-based company, Owley, started a project to beautify several public murals around the neighborhood. By doing this, the neighborhood would have a chance to take pride in what they stand for in their community and to others visiting. Their passion project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID). They were the ones that decided to commision Don Rimx for his artwork. He had already been commissioned for his mural art work before, including at the Bryant Park, so you can say he has built quite a reputation for himself in New York City. Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID) was able to commision Don Rimx thanks to the monetary help that was provided by Councilman Stephen Levin.
Prior to becoming a well-respected artist in New York, Don Rimx was living in Puerto Rico. Having his Puerto Rican roots allowed him to understand more in depth the significance of this mural for the community. In reality, the reason he’s put in so much of his heart into the painting of this mural is because it hits close to his core identity.
Don Rimx, also known as David Sepulveda, was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Growing up, he had to endure dangerous neighborhoods with worrisome crime rates while he lived in public housing. Nevertheless, his parents always did their best to ensure that he was mentally stimulated. His parents even enrolled him in weekend art classes, which is how Don Rimx found out that he had a penchant for art.
He relocated to New York in 2009 and lived in Grand Street upon his arrival, hence providing another reason for the importance of this mural for Don Rimx. One can easily say that the mural easily portrays two fundamental factors in his personal foundation and within that mural he was able to create a connection between the two places for himself. This interrelatedness is something that endeared the boricuas of Grand Street as well since their connection of their native land usually lied within their own memories and nostalgia.
The mural, located in the Grand Street area of Williamsburg, showcases a flower vendor, which in one way or another has become a symbol of Puerto Rico. More specifically of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The title of the mural that Don Rimx gave to the mural is “Olor a Azucenas el Perfume del Barrio.” This phrase directly translates to the scent of lilies, the perfume of the neighborhood. I do want to stress something about the title. Though the lilies are sold in various colors by the flower vendors in San Juan, Don Rimx painted all of them for the mural.
“Olor a Azucenas el Perfume del Barrio” depicts the flower vendor through his arms and a thick bunch of white lilies he’s carrying with him. Rimx, however, did not include the face of the vendor. This was purposely done so that the residents of the Grand Street area could further identify themselves with the mural. Having a faceless mural meant that anyone could, in some sense, bear the face of the vendor. According to Rimx, this was a way for him to allow the entire community of Grand Street to feel represented.
You can clearly notice how significant it was to him to bridge a connection between Puerto Rico and New York in his artist’s statement.
“The main image is inspired by a flower vendor in the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico who walks through all the communities around the San Juan area selling and spreading the beauty and scent of azucenas. These represent the connection between the island and the Brooklyn community,”
According to Greenline, Don Rimx’s artist statement is attached near the mural so that people can understand what the mural means to him and the community.
Honestly, I think it’s incredibly fascinating that the artist took the time to incorporate such a strong symbolism into the mural. If you’ve read other articles by me before, you should have realized that I am amazed by symbolisms, so you can only imagine how excited this mural made me. Continuing on the subject, let’s take a closer look at the mural for a quick moment.
If you look at the mural closely, this flower vendor can easily characterize the qualities of an honest and hard-working individual. The white lilies can also be seen to reveal some ulterior undertones. White lilies typically embody the meaning of purity and prosperity, which is something that the business owners of the Grand Street area can appreciate. Of course, this is all speculation, but it is always to good (and sometimes fun) to keep in mind that there’s more to what meets the eye. In other words, thinking outside of the box is where it’s at!
Anyway, enough about that … for now. I have other exciting news about this Brooklyn neighborhood!
It seems as though this isn’t the last we are going to hear about the Grand Street area. The same company that pushed the murals, Owley, is now creating a documentary about the newly animated area and the process of its beautification. Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID) hopes to continue to promote the importance of inclusion while enhancing the community to look its best simultaneously. You can now find Don Rimx mural at 609 Grand Street.
Honestly, I’m just really curious to see the final outcome of the artistic development of Grand Street. Aren’t you?