By Ross Killion, AsAmNews Staff Writer
Two new murals are now up in Manhattan Chinatown with more to come. This series of murals is part of the Chinatown Mural Project which is the result of a collaborative effort between Karlin Chan, an independent community activist and founder of Chinatown Blockwatch, and Peach Tao, an NYC-based artist that is known for her street murals around the world.
“It’s a collaboration of activist and artist. I have started a GoFundMe fundraising effort to help diffuse the cost of materials and supplies.” says Chan, “We plan on announcing free drawings for a $100 dinner in a Chinatown restaurant open to anyone who takes a selfie with all of our murals and posts it to our Facebook page or tags us on Instagram. Winners will be picked at random. We hope to draw in visitors into the area and create a scavenger hunt of sort of our murals. We are calling it “Art for Recovery”.
The first installation of the mural project is located on 100 Mosco Street. Titled “Noodle Shop”, it is a depiction of a rabbit and tiger, animals of the Chinese zodiac, preparing Chinese food.
The second installation is located at the intersection of Orchard Street and Canal Street. Titled “Mahjong Social”, it depicts four birds playing mahjong with a backdrop of Chinatown apartments. This mural, which is much larger than the first one, highlights the history of the Chinese and Jewish immigrants who settled in the area. While mahjong is a traditional Chinese gambling game, it is also very popular among Jewish Americans. On the left-hand side, there are tributes to the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBT community.
According to the project’s Instagram page, over a dozen people have already tagged themselves on the page.
The Chinatown community has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported by AsAmNews, Chinatown businesses reported losses of up to 80% in February when news of the virus emerging in Wuhan first broke in early 2020. Unprecedented quarantine lockdowns, a drop in tourism and a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes and property damage have further impacted Chinatown and other Asian American communities which now suffer from one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
“Our goal is to create selfie spots around Chinatown to attract tourists who may then eat or shop at local businesses”, Chan says. The hope is that these murals will boost tourism and give the Chinatown community an advantage as New York City comes out of the pandemic.
The Chinatown Mural Project is actively seeking permission from building owners to install more murals. The next installation is planned to be completed by the end of September.
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