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Courtesy CC/Flickr/wiredforlego

Artist says giant Michael Jackson mural in the East Village should stay

Will Gleason

Michael Jackson's not off the wall this time. 

Last July, a striking technicolor mural of the late singer’s visage was painted on the side of a five-story building in the East Village. Now, after new allegations of Jackson’s abuse of minors have resurfaced as a result of the searing HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, the artist behind the piece has come out in favor of leaving the work up.

The bright mural, which depicts both a youthful Jackson 5-era Michael and the singer in his later years, was one of the most striking examples of renowned street artist Eduardo Kobra’s addition to the city landscape. Other works of the artist included profiles of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa in Chelsea and a huge depiction of a kneeling firefighter that was unveiled on 9/11. In fact, he had so many works go up across the city last year (15 in total) that we named him one of our New Yorkers of the Year.

We reached out to the Brazilian artist to get his thoughts on the mural of the pop star in light of the new allegations, and he sent back the following statement:

“I decided to keep the mural on, for a few reasons:

First, because the mural itself is not a simple tribute to MJ. My entire idea was to show the transformations he went through during his entire life: from black to white, kid to adult, from natural to unnatural. The whole project that I did in NYC last year was about peace, and in that mural in particular I was trying to describe that people sometimes have to go through so much to be able to reach their own peace of mind.. and even then, sometimes doesn’t matter what people do, they can never reach that peace.

In the second place, I believe MJ is part of American History, and also part of the world’s music history. You can catalog music Before and After MJ, so much was his influence. He still is the biggest pop star that has ever lived, and that we have ever seen, and I believe we are never going to see another pop star like him again. Therefore, we can’t just erase him from history. These new allegations can be true or not. It is not up to me to judge if MJ is guilty or not—and now, since he is dead, he won’t be judged by justice anymore. So I really hope that mural can do it’s part and bring us to think about it all and how we, as persons and as a community, will deal with this new fact concerning MJ’s life.

Hopefully this discussion leads us all to the desire to be a better person everyday.” 

The Jackson mural can currently be seen on the corner of 11th Street and First Avenue.

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