BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK | If there’s a mural on the back of the old P.S. 64, then there ought to be one on the front, too — right?
On Sun., March 5, a group of artists began working on a mural on the Ninth Street side of 605 E. Ninth St., the old P.S. 64 and the former home of CHARAS / El Bohio, a Puerto Rican-led arts and community center.
In November, another group of other artists, led by the Thrive Collective and David “Daso” Soto, decorated the building’s 10th Street side.
Seth Tobocman was perched on a ladder on March 5, doing a painting of Armando Perez, CHARAS’s late artistic director. Tobocman said the mural on the building’s other side only mentions Perez’s name, and that he feels this Loisaida legend merits his own mural.
“Most of us are connected with the comic magazine World War 3 Illustrated, and some of us had spent time in the building and had studios here in the 1980s and ’90s,” said Sabrina Jones.
Jones illustrated a six-page story of the history of CHARAS in the magazine’s 1999 edition.
The mural shows the different activities and uses that happened in the cultural hub, such as Recycle-A-Bicycle, 12-step programs, spaces for theatrical rehearsals and political arts groups, plus kids’ programs.
The artists were working on four panels. They said they might come back to paint the other 12 panels — or that others in the community could paint them. The purpose of the artwork, Jones said, is “to show people what this is a place for, what it has been, could be and should be used for.”
Developer Gregg Singer bought the old school at an auction of city-owned properties in 1998, but defaulted on repayment of loans from Madison Capital Realty. A judge has ordered that the building — vacant for more than 20 years now — be auctioned.