North Park

North Park Plywood Murals Represent Desired Change

Artist Jonny Pucci's murals of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery along University Avenue have become a source of community pride and inspiration

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What started with sheets of plywood covering business windows to prevent the possibility of looting during protests earlier this month, has turned into one of the most photographed sections of North Park.

The painted murals of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery which cover the windows outside the now-closed Peking Restaurant along University Avenue are particularly popular.

"They're gorgeous," said Gayle Dean, who walks the street every day and still often stops to stare. "Every day I walk by it. The morning when I first saw it I stopped and took pictures by it."

Artist Jonny Pucci said he felt helpless while watching news reports of the rioting, looting, and protests around America and wanted to do something to help bring comfort to people in his community.

"I just got on my bike and started riding around the neighborhood," Pucci said.

He found some newly installed plywood outside the shuttered Peking Restaurant, which closed back in March of 2019.

The owners were putting up the boards to prevent looting in advance of weekend protests and granted Jonny permission to bring them to life with his artistic talent.

"I'm a muralist and my favorite thing about painting murals and public art, in general, is you can get that immediate feedback," Pucci said. "When you're in a public space you get the opportunity to talk to people and feel how they think about what you're making and how you're impacting their environment."

While protestors marched around him chanting George Floyd's name, he chose to paint Arbery and Taylor to make sure they were remembered as well.

"They were only a year apart, Briana and Ahmaud, and my youngest brother is the same age, so seeing they were so young, it was so tragic," Pucci said.

Murals have also gone up outside neighboring businesses, making the stretch of University Avenue an impromptu artist alley.

While some of the businesses in the area have started taking the plywood down from their storefront windows, Jonny's murals will likely be up for a while longer since they're covering the windows of the restaurant which has closed for good.

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