Max “Ripo” Rippon is the latest artist to visit Little Italy for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, a mural project curated by Wayne Rada and I. When I heard that Ripo was going to be in town from Barcelona, I knew we had to take advantage of the opportunity. As I’ve said before, one thing that really excites me about The L.I.S.A. Project is when we can mix the old and the new, Little Italy’s history with contemporary art. With his love of handpainted signs and typography, I suspected that Ripo would fit perfectly with that combination. I suggested something site-specific about Little Italy and he immediately got the idea and improved upon it. For his piece on Mulberry between Hester and Grand streets, Ripo drew on neighborhood archives to create a collage-like portrait of the neighborhood.
Ripo says, “The fragmented texts come from research of New York Times news headlines relating to the history of Little Italy. Included are also a few treasures found in the archives at the Italian American Museum with headlines in Italian such as: “Gli Italiani Non Piu Considerati ‘Enemy Aliens'” (Italians no longer considered ‘Enemy Aliens’), and an extortion letter sent from the mafia, finishing with the line: ‘Our vendetta is about to begin.'”
Now, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I still haven’t seen this mural in person. Between the end of the semester, the launch of Viral Art and now being out in Colorado to visit my family, I haven’t been to New York City in far too long. Still, I am met up with Ripo at the Italian American Museum while he was researching this mural and I’m so glad we were able to get him up in Little Italy. He’s just one of those artists that I love to support in my small way, and one of the artists whom I really think deserves a bit more spotlight from time to time. Ripo is definitely one of the more talented and thoughtful painters I know.
Well, that’s it for The L.I.S.A. Project in 2013, but we’re already planning to go even bigger in 2014, so keep an eye on out for what we do next.
Photos by Rey Rosa for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC