It Began with a Dream
In Fall of 2019, Program Director of AmeriCorps in Bridgeton, NJ, Amy Petrie, challenged members to create something that would benefit the city of Bridgeton. The old Laurel Theatre, once a highlight in the bustling town, was now worn down and out of use. Underneath the bowed theater sign hung green slabs and the remnants of a previous weathered mural.
Ben Garton and Ashley Henry took to the task of bringing life and color back to town. After meeting with the City Council and having the Mural approved, Ben and Ashley went straight to work alongside other community members and students from Bridgeton High School to make the mural possible.
What is the Meaning Behind the Mural?
The mural sits under an old abandoned theater which I located across the street from the Cohansey River. This space is an iconic location for many local Bridgeton residents. In addition, a large portion of the population is Hispanic. The mural incorporates the Laurel Theater in its prime painted in black and white to depict the past. From there it merges into the Cohansey River with floating Spanish tiles above it to represent and honor this cultural group. To represent other backgrounds prevalent in Bridgeton, there are key elements in the tiles that differ from traditional Spanish tiles. Look close and you will see Native American and African American patterns to name just two. Overall, this mural vividly depicts the past, present, and diverse future of Bridgeton.
Community is Important
Many people strolled by the mural as it was being painted. Some, close to tears, were elated remembering the "good old days" when they used to have family movie nights an order popcorn for a couple of cents! And of those who admired this painting, one of which being Mayor Albert B. Kelly, were repeatedly in thankful. One of our favorite comments was from a passerby who remarked with great joy and excitement, "We need more stuff like this Bridgeton."
During this process, we had the opportunity to be interviewed and featured by SNJ Today. Check out the video below and see the completed mural for yourself by visiting 32 S. Laurel Street in Bridgeton New Jersey!
Request Ashley to paint a mural near you by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to everyone who generously contributed to this mural.
From all of us in Bridgeton, Thank You! (This list is in no particular order. If you name is not accounted for, please contact me so that you can be acknowledged)!
Paint and Supplies: Walmart, Home Depot, Pro-Spe Painting Inc., DJ's Local Painting, Underpressure Powerwashing and Painting
Reference Images: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11597, http://www.philamonjaro.com/dance/, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philbrook_-_Navajo_Satteldecke.jpg, http://www.co.cumberland.nj.us/images/bridgeton_riverfront.jpg, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/9703958467, https://www.flickr.com/photos/r4vi/10346460255/in/photolist-gLhjaM-Cphuax-6dJyPu-eBsPuF-5sh1bi-eBsvpa-5ivHgC-7w2dSf-gEeLrM-9nPWx6-8eetQv-V3iptQ-9nPWtF-9q6uyw-78dMZD-9q3rsT-jecwye-62gxcK-9QtSxW-9qcSrr-qhS8Xz-9nSZhG-5y1LFt-YPpPfw-ayKmss-9q3rG6-7cGiDg-dzmGkd-5sgW2k-2BqwaY-7T4a4z-5KHiLD-fEiY4L-djURGd-4H9NAa-bKMKVF-7T4bVv-2Bm8vx-5sgZsM-TPhxJo-5smjcE-6M8PFM-9t7LyT-3oJtBK-GxK2ro-pN1vbx-9qfUdU-YPpPGo-e3Vmsn-5oeJdu, https://pixabay.com/en/sunflower-tile-tiles-ceramic-green-5419/, https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1103934, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Allegories_of_the_Four_Continents_Tiles,_early-mid_18th_century_(CH_18429649-2).jpg
Helping Hands: Christy Schneyman, Anayeli Gonzalez, Moises Marrero, Davonte Johnson, Maribel, Jamille (Moomoo) Wright, Leslie Huerta, Jeff Hines, Alex Salanitro