Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Artists feel inspired to create murals for the former Charas/El Bohio Community Center

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

A group of local artists continues to paint a series of murals on the Ninth Street side of the former Charas/El Bohio Community Center here between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

The artists include (above) Seth Tobocman ... Sabrina Jones...
...Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz...
... and Ariel Kleinberg ...
The work, which started on March 5, comes before the landmarked building heads to a foreclosure auction tomorrow, Wednesday, March 22, at the Hilton New York Midtown Fifth Avenue. (There is a Facebook invite to "Stop the Auction.")

Meanwhile, there's a petition in circulation titled, "Save Charas Community Center! Stop the Private Auction!" Per the petition, which states, "Demand Mayor Adams use eminent domain to return the center to the people!" You can find the petition here.

"We are operating on the assumption that we will get the community center back, and we are using permanent material that will last," Tobocman said. 

He was quick to note that the participating artists are not involved with the various political groups and their plans for tomorrow's auction. 

"We are just artists inspired to paint, inspired by the art that was painted on the other [10th Street] side," Tobocman said. "Sabrina Jones had a studio in the building before it was evicted. Some of us taught art classes to kids there back in the 80s. We have a Wednesday deadline due to the auction."
The property that developer Gregg Singer purchased during a city auction in 1998 for $3.15 million fell into foreclosure last year. Through the years, Singer wanted to turn the one-time P.S. 64 into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized. Some residents want to see the space used again as a community center, as it was during its time as Charas/El Bohio Community Center. Singer evicted the group on Dec. 27, 2001.  

1 comment:

John Penley said...

CHARAS , MORUS and others held a rally at City Hall last week to ask the City to give the building back to the community. There is some video on You Tube of this. Apparently , the city ignored them and they got no press coverage so I assume the auction is still on. This leaves the protest , not rally , at the actual auction at the Hilton as the last hope to stop the sale so everyone , including the muralists featured here should go and I suggest bring chalk to add messages to potential buyers on the sidewalks around the Hilton. There is one final option and while I don't want anyone to say that I advocated it but it is each individuals choice and that is to re-squat CHARAS and stop the turnover that way !