Manny’s WallBy Jose B. Rivera
Manny Did IT!! Local community artist Manny Vega Jr. completed his restoration of the wall mural on East 104th Street and the corner of Lexington Avenue. Manny started the restoration in September. He worked against time and the advent of cold weather which could prevent the paint he used from adhering to the wall. Mr. Vega was lucky. Warm winter weather allowed him to complete the wall in time.
Mr. Vega is a well known local artist. He has painted various murals throughout the community and was even commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority to do the East 110th Street Train station wall tiles. The results were great. Mr. Vega is a good natured man. Which serves him well in dealing with community people and the press.
The walls renovation was commissioned by the very same community institution that commissioned the creation of the wall , Hope Community, Inc. It was Hope Community, Inc, which commissioned Hank Prussing and his apprentice, Manny Vega to do the wall in the early 70s. (East Harlem Online apologizes for omitting Hope’s role in the commissioning of the wall’s renovation when this article first appeared on this web site—see acknowledgements below). Mr. Mark Alexander, Executive Director of Hope Community, Inc., deserves credit and thanks for commissioning the return and renovation of this great work of art and love.
The New York Daily News featured Mr. Vega in a December 18, 1998 article titled “Lovingly Restoring Portrait of Harlem” “Artist polishes 25-year-old mural”. (we will forgive the Daily News for not printing East Harlem). The article by Daily News Staff writer Ralph R. Ortega, (see below) credits Mr. Vega for bringing the mural and the community back to life. It’s amazing the number of people who are affected by that wall. To look at it is to inspire hope, pride and love of the community. It’s almost as if the wall’s restoration has paralleled East Harlem’s restoration. (low crime rate, new buildings and economic development).
The Daily News also featured another article, “A Closer Look” about those portrayed on the mural. Kind of a where are they now piece. This publication asked the Daily News for permission to reprint the personnel snippets contained in “A Closer Look”, but they refused saying that none of their content can go up on any web site, that is their policy. Of course “Fair Use”, a universal policy that even the Daily News uses to quote text and use pictures from other publications is invoked here. Sorry Daily News but what is good for the goose…. East Harlem Online will interview those portrayed in the wall and come up with it’s own “Who they Are”.
East Harlem Online is proud of Manny Vega. We are proud of his great work and positive and artful contributions to the community. We are so proud in fact, that Manny’s picture has been placed (for the last month) on this web site’s entry/first page. A place where many are sure to see him and where his work is sure to be seen. The wall mural is now East Harlem’s pride and joy. It gives us strength, hope, inspiration and is beautiful to see.
While many continue to say that nothing good can come out of East Harlem, or the inner city, Manny Vega paints a different picture of what is possible.
Panoramic Picture of the restored Wall Mural (big download, 338K, full screen shot)
Note: Similarities between the Daily News picture and East Harlem Online’s picture of Mr. Vega are purely coincidental. Mr. Vega does take a good picture, especially against the beautiful mural which he has fully restored.
Acknowledgements to Hope Community, Inc.: East Harlem Online would like to credit and thank, Hope Community, Inc., Mr. Mark Alexander, Executive Director of Hope Community, Inc., Mr. Michael Lugo, Associated Director of Development at Hope Community, Inc. for their contributions to this article. Especially Mr. Lugo, who made our omission of Hope Community, Inc. role in the wall restoration apparent to East Harlem Online. We would like to thank Hope Community Inc., most of all for creating the wall and for restoring it. The Wall is a gift to the community, one which will be cherished for all time. We ask Hope Community, Inc. to continue their good work with the wall and with all that they do. We also would like to thank Hope Community, Inc., for granting permission to show the wall (pictorially) here on this web site. East Harlem Online apologizes for the omission.