Childhood Memories

Angie’s Cafe at 275 Amboy Ave is a restaurant and bakery opened in 2016 by Angie and Edgar Quinonez, both from the Dominican Republic. They have been working with the MDA on plans for a mural to go on the east wall as part of other building improvements planned for the site. Artist and educator Raúl Ayala and his students from the Rutgers Mason Gross School of Fine Arts have been commissioned to design and install a mural for the café wall. Ayala is an experienced mural artist from Ecuador whose work features themes related to social justice, memory, immigration, and resilience. The MDA Public Art Policy will guide the process, including seeking public input.

Childhood Memories is about remembering the joy and innocence of youth, and is intended to bring a sense of playfulness and a welcoming experience to the space where it will be installed. The central Flamboyant Tree image symbolizes the Dominican Republic and the universal themes of life, growth, strength, connection and support. The approximate 210 square foot mural will be executed on parachute cloth with acrylic paints off site with the Mason Gross students, and installed in spring 2022 with NovaGel (strong polymer gel)—a mural-making technique widely used in other cities. The mural will harmonize with a future outdoor dining space created in a portion of the parking lot facing Amboy Avenue.

About the Artist

Ayala is a Mason Gross MFA graduate with additional fine art degrees and certificates from universities in Ecuador and Argentina. He is the recipient of numerous awards and artist residencies, including the Museo La Neomudejar in Madrid, Spain; the Rauschenberg Foundation; New York Foundation for the Arts; and the European Commission for the UN in Hungary. He has served as a teaching artist and received mural commissions for a variety of institutions and communities, including the Brooklyn Public Library, Groundswell (working with the NYC Housing Authority), El Puente Leadership Project, The Laundromat Project, Downtown Arts in NYC, and the Highland Park Arts Commission in NJ.

Project Updates

September 13, 2021 – stakeholder meeting.

September 20, 2021 – public meeting.

September 27, 2021 – Borough Council meeting and review.

October 4, 2021 – artist given approval to proceed

October, 2021 – May, 2022 – off-site mural fabrication with the students

May 31, 2022 – anticipated installation completion

Dedication ceremony – details TBA

Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners Through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.

Made possible by funds from Middlesex County, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.