It’s Up To Us, John Rivera-Resto’s sprawling mural at Clark Avenue and West 25th Street, was designed as a rallying cry.Since its completion in June 2014, it’s served as a larger-than-life reminder of Clark-Fulton’s history and potential for revitalization.
But in November, a vandal scrawled a silver graffiti tag across the heart of the 1,944-square-foot streetscape, prompting locals, community organizations and corporations into action.
“They were furious,” says Keisha Gonzalez, managing director of the Metro West Community Development Organization, the nonprofit leading restoration efforts. “I’ve never seen pitchforks go up that quickly.”
MetroHealth System will cover 90 percent of the total restoration costs, while Sherwin-Williams Co. is donating paints and brushes. In February, Metro West hung a banner over the tag to announce that the neighborhood is reclaiming its mural.
“I was not prepared for the outcry and how the residents felt about it,” says Rivera-Resto, a Cleveland native who grew up in Clark-Fulton and Puerto Rico.
After interviewing locals about their lives, he spent more than two years painting the mural’s neighborhood scenes, struggles and dreams.
“This mural is the anchor to the revitalization of the neighborhood,” says Gonzalez, who points to subsequent investments such as La Villa Hispana’s progress and the paving of West 28th Street.“The mural was really a beacon of hope.”
Rivera-Resto plans to begin the restoration in May.
“The second that mural is finished, it’s really going to show a sign of strength and endurance for this neighborhood,” says Gonzalez. “No one can come in and disrespect the hard work citizens have put in reclaiming it.”