John Ahearn and
Rigoberto Torres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intervale Avenue at Kelly Street

Homage to the People of the Bronx: Double Dutch at Kelly Street I (Frieda, Javette, Towana and Stancey), 1981-82
cast fiberglass sculptures
on building façade, 10' x 20'
National Endowment for the Arts HUD, through the DCA Community Development Program and the
Bronx Council on the Arts

Dawson Street at Longwood Avenue

Life on Dawson Street (Thomas, Barbara, Pedro with Tire, and Pat and Lelena at Play), 1982-83
cast fiberglass sculptures
on building façade, 10' x 20'
HUD, through the DCA Community Development Program and the Bronx Council on the Arts.


877 Intervale Avenue at Fox Street

We Are A Family (Layman, Victor and Ernest, Kate, Towana and Staice, Felix and Iris, and Smokey), 1981-82, cast fiberglass sculptures on building façade, HUD, through the DCA Community Development Program and the Bronx Council
on the Arts.


Walton Avenue at 170th Street

Back to School (Maggie and Connie, Kido and Ralph, Jay with bike, Titi in Window), 1985, cast fiberglass sculptures on building façade
40' x 20' (This work is still in place but was damaged by fire in 1998)


John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres began collaborating in the early 1980s and many of their castings have become a part of the landscape in two South Bronx neighborhoods. Ahearn and Torres met at Fashion Moda during Ahearn's 1979 exhibition titled South Bronx Hall of Fame. Ahearn was producing portraits of people in the South Bronx neighborhood and Torres became one of the subjects. The castings were often staged as a public performance on the street with earlier works hung on walls to announce the event.

In the early eighties, Ahearn and Torres developed the first three murals, installed on the exterior walls of apartment buildings with funding from HUD, through the DCA Community Development Program and the Bronx Council on the Arts. These include We Are A Family (1981-82), Life on Dawson Street (1982-83), and Homage to the People of the Bronx: Double Dutch at Kelly Street (1981-82). They were created in the artists' Kelly Street studio, located in the former headquarters of the Kelly Street Block Association. The latter project received the additional support of the NEA's Art In Public Places. Back to School (1985) was funded by the artists and marked their return to the Walton Avenue neighborhood.

The work of Ahearn and Torres is literally drawn from people in the neighborhood. Many of the models for We Are A Family and Life on Dawson Street were connected to the life of a social club next door to the artists' Kelly Street studio. The first three murals are located on buildings adjacent to the Longwood Arts Center. All four of the projects, located high on the sides of buildings, are visible from a distance. Double Dutch, which depicts four children jumping rope, was inspired by neighborhood girls performing African dances at a community center. Ahearn and Torres translated their active poses into the familiar game. Back to School, with its vignettes of the first day of school, depicts children and parents on that day that marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new cycle. (This work was recently blackened by a fire at an adjacent building.)

[More about John Ahearn]
[More about Rigoberto Torres]

[Visit the Bronx Council on the Arts website]