At the corner of First Avenue and East 11th Street, tourists and residents alike stopped in their tracks, stunned by the mural in front of them. It was a very familiar visage split straight down the middle. The right half of the face depicted an image of a young boy with a relaxed smile, round cheeks and a discernible afro on a white backdrop. The left half, by contrast, showed an older, gaunt face with straight hair and alert eyes on a black backdrop. The faces were further bifurcated into crisp diamonds in all the colors of the rainbow, standing out from the neighboring red brick facades. The face was none other than the late king of pop: Michael Jackson.
The two-faced mural is reportedly the work of Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra, who has been heralded for multi-colored works across the globe, which span the gamut from South African leader Nelson Mandela to photographer Vivian Maier. The artist, who grew up in a poor neighborhood on the south side of São Paulo, has displayed more than 500 murals in Brazil and 17 other countries, landing most recently in this corner of the East Village. As of mid-afternoon on Monday, painters were still spraying the final touches on the vibrant homage, but it should be up-and-ready soon enough for the world to behold.
The Jacksons, whose patriarch died last month, have been quite a presence lately. Michael’s sister Janet was spotted filming a music video in Williamsburg last week and Spike Lee’s annual block party in honor of the King of Pop will return to Bed-Stuy next month, Aug. 25, just a few days before what would have been Michael’s 60th birthday.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post misidentified Michael Jackson’s would-be age.