The fingers of the Spanish artist Vanesa Álvarez do not tremble, despite the cold, as they hold the brush with which she paints a mural on a street in the New York neighborhood of Brooklyn full of nostalgia and hope: “We will embrace again“.
“The possibility arose of painting this mural for give a little more hope to the neighborhoodor, with this year so hard that we have been, “this Galician artist tells Efe during a brief break from her work, which began this Tuesday and hopes to be able to finish this weekend, due to the cold and the few hours of light brush strokes slow down.
As soon as he puts down his work tools, he takes off the thin rubber gloves with which he paints, to put on woolen ones and “get a little warm“It’s seven degrees, but the feeling is five, and on the edge of the sidewalk where he is doing his work there are still remnants of the snowstorm that last week covered New York in white.
A message of hope
The painting, in which pastel tones predominate, is commissioned by a nearby pop art gallery, La Casa de Bobblehaus, where two small collectives of artists from the Williamsburg area converge. A couple is hugging next to a large sign that in capital letters seems to scream what pretends to be a premonition: ‘We will hug again’ (We will hug again).
“We will embrace each other again, because I hope that in spring we can, little by little, embrace again and that is why I also decided to use these colors that go more with winter,” says Álvarez before explaining that the work is also thought of as something ephemeral, because the building where his imprint comes to life is scheduled to be demolished for next March.
For this reason, he continues, although he tends to use brighter colors, this time he opted for shades “a little duller, more wintry, because the wall may only last until spring.”
A hard time for artists
On March 13, New York theaters, concerts and public events were closed at a time when the city became the eye of the hurricane of the covid-19 in United States.
Broadway turned off the lights of its shows, the golden mile of the museums – MoMa, Met and Guggenheim – closed their doors and the entire vibrant art scene of the city has languished since then, despite the fact that museums and art galleries began to partially regain their activity during the summer.
“This pandemic, as for everyone, for the art world has been an almost dry stop, a pitcher of cold water,” says Álvarez who “had an exhibition in an art gallery in Manhattan in the summer that could not happen”, and some projects abroad, in addition to the classes he gave in the Bronx neighborhood on “public art” that were “paralyzed when schools closed”.
So “I stayed, like all artists, at home trying to do as much as possible online”, a time in which he took advantage of “finish an illustration book for children in Galician language“” But it has been very hard and as you imagine, being a Galician living here, with many doubts about going home or not, “she adds.
Union make force
The blow that the pandemic has caused to the world of culture, which for Álvarez has been greater for people like her who live “between education and art”, has served, however, to reinforce connections with other artists in a world that already feeds on support networks.
“Artists form connections, we tend to collectivize ourselves because all artists, but especially those of us who have such a social message, those of us who like to work with people, collaborative murals or work with the community, we tend to become collective, because it is the way“He says after explaining that he is now in contact with several people through the Bobblehaus La Casa gallery, the artistic residence where he lives or the” Project Art “collective.
Some parties in New York
Álvarez has just had a son, just three months ago, with his partner, the poet Marcos de la Fuente from Vigo; and although their intention was to travel to their native Vigo for the holidays, they decided to stay in the cold city of skyscrapers.
“We are very sorry, because we wanted to introduce our son to the whole family, but it seems to us the most responsible to stay here and avoid the spreadYou will have to wait a bit to visit Spain, “he says with the mask covering his nose and mouth.
Therefore, in addition to an attempt to revive the spirits of Williamsburg residents, to show that the flame of “art street” (street art, in English) is still alive in New York despite the times and to send a cry of hope, the mural -confesses- “is also a small personal message to my family and friends in Spain, in Galicia, because we are also going to embrace again soon, I hope.”