Collective vision: Union Square’s pedestrian walkway gets mural makeover 

Union Square has become more colorful than ever.

The iconic hangout point at Union Square West is celebrating the city’s COVID-19 recovery through two gigantic murals on either side of 14th Street from Broadway to Union Square West. 

On July 27, passersby and members of the community were invited to join street artists Gera Lozano, also known as GERALUZ, and Werc to fill in the colors of a mural they created along two pedestrian walkways.

Entitled Collective Vision and hosted by the Union Square Partnership and the city’s Department of Transportation, this effort was created as an incentive for individuals to walk through the parkway, and also highlight that the street — adjacent to the M14D and M14A bus route — is actually a safe space to tread.

Street artist Werc sketches out a mural for the community to help paint. Photo by Dean Moses

“The 14th Street busway was implemented in late 2019, and this street mural is a celebration of the fact that as a part of the implementation of the busway the city gave us more pedestrian space, so the area that the mural is being painted on is open to pedestrians and we want New Yorkers to know it’s for them,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership. She explained that due to the pandemic, all initiatives to underscore this location as a footpath were put on pause.  

Working until July 30, artists GERALUZ and Werc will be finishing up the mural and members of the Union Square Partnership are hoping this project will be a welcoming reminder to all that there is a safe space for foot traffic. Additionally, the vibrant lanes will play host to outdoor music and other activities that promote inclusivity in the spring of 2022. 

Jennifer Falk Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. Photo by Dean Moses

Falk describes Collective Vision as a symbolic piece that signifies nature, resilience and the idea of a shared ecosystem. The concept behind the mural is one of many efforts being made through the Union Square Partnership January 2021 district plan, which includes taking back more public space and putting forward engaging activities for individuals to enjoy. 

“And it focuses on the idea that we are all on this planet together as a community and that we need to invest in it,” Falk said, pointing out the images of hummingbirds and flowers that are brightly displayed.

Artist GERALUZ joined the project since she wanted the community to understand that the space they are painting in belongs to the community.

On July 26, she placed primer along the walkway so that the colors could pop and then sketched out the imagery. On July 27 and 28, everyone was invited to “paint by numbers,” filling in various portions of the mural.  

“It’s taken the community a while to understand that this is actually walkable space. I think this mural’s intention is to create more awareness of their space. This is for them to have a nice walkway with beautifully activated artwork,” GERALUZ said. “It’s about unity, it’s about coming together and taking the cue from nature how birds come together, flowers grow together all in a sense that community exists and it’s part of nature and taking that inspiration as humans to come together as well to be stronger.” 

City Council Member Carlina Rivera also rolled up her sleeves and joined in on the fun, telling amNewYork Metro that the mural is a part of a larger effort to transform public and open spaces. 

The mural will cover 14th Street between University Plaza and Fourth Avenue. Photo by Dean Moses

“We have the city’s first busway there and what we wanted to do with the new pedestrian plazas on East 14 Street is also to beautify the area. In partnership with organizations in the area as well as local artists and talent, we brought people together to paint,” Rivera said. “It’s going to be a space for music, for art, clearly the Green Market has been a staple there for decades and has only grown since it first started, and it’s always been for activist and for advocates to come together and for discussions to be had. It’s also become a symbol for what you can do with a park and area that although the area can appear quite dense while also making it feel open.”