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Sipros stand in front of his completed mural outside the parking garage of The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale.

The recent appearance of a 60-foot-tall boy in Glendale outside the Shops at Atlas Park has many people in the neighborhood asking, “Where did he come from?”

The boy — rather, a giant, spray-painted mural of a boy on an exterior wall of the parking garage along Cooper Avenue — came into existence in a matter of two days thanks to the Brazilian artist Sipros, a member of The Bushwick Collective.

According to Joe Ficalora, founder of the Brooklyn-based crew of street artists and muralists, the piece came together from a mutual interest between him and Atlas Park management.

I looked at Atlas and what they do for the community, and when I saw that stuff align and I was able to reach them for a meeting,” Ficalora said. “They are wonderful people and they embrace what we are doing so we’re more than proud to be part of it.”

The mural is composed entirely of spray paint and involved about 13 to 14 hours of work, with the use of a mechanical lift. It depicts a young boy with detailed facial features, a gentle smirk, huge ears, a colorful sweater with matching sneakers and a bouquet of bright balloons in his right hand. Also serving as Sipros’ manager, Ficalora explained the artist’s vision on his behalf.

Aside from the cartoonish ears being the signature feature of Sipros’ paintings, their size is meant to depict the goofy, yet innocent nature of a child while growing up, Ficalora said. The artist’s goal is to project a peaceful, friendly figure that captures “when we are most free in life, which is our childhood,” Ficalora added.

For Atlas Park, the result was everything it was hoping for.

Photo courtesy of Joe Ficarola

Photo courtesy of Joe Ficarola

“Atlas Park started talking to Joe Ficalora with The Bushwick Collective a few months ago as we wanted to add a fun and unique mural to the space and felt they would be the perfect partner,” said Peter DeLucia, property manager for Atlas Park, in an email. “The parking garage off of Cooper Avenue offered a great canvas for a large-scale mural that would delight shoppers and draw visitors to Atlas Park.”

It has certainly gathered attention, as local residents posted pictures of the piece on Facebook and a mixed-review thread of comments ensued. While some applauded the artwork, others questioned its purpose and labeled it as graffiti. Ficalora said the Collective is used to that sort of treatment.

What really spoke to the mural’s effectiveness as Ficalora watched Sipros work from the St. John Cemetery across the street were the people who slowed down or stopped as they were driving or walking by, gazing up at the boy and taking pictures, he said. Even more impressive was Sipros’ ability to free-paint the entire piece without measuring anything, Ficalora added.

Ficalora and DeLucia both mentioned that their partnership will continue going forward, so Glendale residents might see another mural start to take shape at the shops soon. By then, maybe the critics of the first piece will begin to see the symbolic purpose of the boy and his balloons.

A simple thing like a balloon will bring so much joy to a child, and when we get older it’s just a balloon,” Ficalora sais. “When you’re giving someone a balloon, it’s to give them that sense of joy.”




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