Volume 79, Number 21 | Oct. 28 - Nov. 03, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Villager photos by Lincoln Anderson

From left, Andres Borrero, Antonio “Chico” Garcia and William Pentecost working on the new Power of Peace Coalition mural on Houston St. last week.

Chico, ‘The Messenger,’ spreads message of peace back on L.E.S.

By Lincoln Anderson

Returning to his old Lower East Side stomping ground, Antonio “Chico” Garcia is back in town for a month and a half to work on some commissioned murals, on everything from peace to the Rat Pack.

On Wednesday, Chico — who recently relocated to Tampa, Fla., to reunite with his family — spray-painted a new graffiti-style mural for the Power of Peace Coalition at Houston St. and Avenue B. Helping him complete the one-day project were his cousin Andres Borrero and William Pentecost, the coalition’s youth activities coordinator.

When done, the mural would say, “Stop the Violence” and “Another Way Is Possible.”

“It’s a powerful message,” Chico said of the peace campaign, adding that, coincidentally, “They call me ‘The Messenger.’

“That’s from New York — and it’s going across the country,” he said of the initiative.

The schematic for the mural.

The Houston St. wall has been one of Chico’s signature canvases, specifically for memorials, since the 1980s. Those he has featured on its plaster have run the gamut from spiritual leaders to salsa stars, including Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Selena and Celia Cruz. His first piece there depicted a young girl who was killed on Broome St.

The graffiti guru will also be painting a mural of the Rat Pack stars of the 1960s — Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra and the rest — near a bar between Eighth and Ninth Sts. on Avenue C.

Down in Tampa, Chico has been busy doing detail work and designs on cars and motorcycle helmets, and is now starting to get back into murals, too. He proudly showed some photos on his cell phone of him with Tampa’s mayor at the dedication of his mural for a slain police officer there.

Asked if he was thinking of doing a Yankees mural now that the team is doing so well — maybe that heroic A-Rod kneeling pose after he scored a key run? — Chico sounded skeptical.

“A-Rod is the man,” he said, then added, “Personally, I think they should check him out again — he’s hitting home runs too fast.”

Chico’s cousin Andres, who was assisting him with the mural on Wednesday, is a born-and-raised Lower East Sider.

“I remember when cabs didn’t go past First Ave. — not for $1,000,” he said with a smile as proof that he’s seen it all.

The Power of Peace Coalition was started by Councilmember Rosie Mendez and District Leader Anthony Feliciano last year after Tina Negron, 24, an employee at the Key Food supermarket on Avenue A at E. Fourth St., was killed by a co-worker there in February 2008.

The Lower Eastside Girls Club, which is part of the coalition, commissioned the peace mural.

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