For two months starting in July 1985—a summer marked by record-breaking temperatures—the artists worked, their efforts drawing community residents, family, and friends into the garden to help paint, socialize, and start reclaiming the open space. Twelve artists collaborated on the 30’ x 41’8” collective mural on the Avenue C building.
This mural, directed by Eva Cockcroft, was entitled La Lucha Continua The Struggle Continues, and ultimately lent its name to the entire “mural park.” The collective mural presented the issues plaguing Loisaida, a term coined by playwright Bimbo Rivas (a CHARAS co-founder), giving the neighborhood a sense of identity and place. The mural also presented the successful efforts residents undertook to tackle these problems.
Many of the artists working on the collective mural joined several others to create 23 smaller murals ranging in size from 12’ x 9’ to 18’ x 20’ in both horizontal and vertical formats. (The two murals that brought the total to 26 were painted the following summer.) Characterized by the artists’ individual styles, these murals—entitled by their creators—were unified by colorful bands running above, below, and in between them, with the words “The Struggle Continues” in many languages, reflecting the backgrounds of Loisaida’s residents and workers.
Reaching out to the political art community, Artmakers and CHARAS raised approximately $3,500—including small grants from North Star and Citizens Committee for New York City as well as the support of artists May Stevens, Coosje Van Bruggen, Leon Golub, and Nancy Spero. The raised funds covered insurance, scaffold rental, and some administrative expenses.
Materials for the Arts (NYC Department of Cultural Affairs), Golden Artists Colors, Amsterdam Color Works, and Kaminstein Brothers donated paint and supplies. The artists donated their labor, liberating them from bureaucratic and artistic restraints imposed by funders. Had the budget included artist fees and materials, it would have topped $35,000, at the time an unheard of amount for a community mural. Today, that budget would approach $90,000, scaffold rental alone nearing $20,000.