Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning Announces Queens Reflections Mural to be Unveiled  Wed., Aug. 17, 11:30am (sharp) at Daniel M. O’Connell Playground St. Albans, Queens.

August 9, 2022 (New York)—Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) is thrilled to announce the  Wednesday, August 17, 11am unveiling of Queens Reflections, a block-long beautification project  located at the Daniel M. O’Connell Playground (113-1 196th St.) in St. Albans, Queens. Exhibited  through NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program, Queens Reflections is by the gifted fine and digital artist  Eric Black, a native of the borough and resident of the community. It consists of portraits and  inspirational quotes from famous icons associated with Queens across history and popular culture.

Queens Reflections fulfills the vision of I. Daneek Miller, former New York City Council Member for  District 27 (Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, Addisleigh Park, Springfield  Gardens) from 2014 to 2021. Having assigned the project to JCAL, Black was then selected through a  citywide open-call process. His extraordinary mural depicts LL Cool J, Q-Tip, Jackie Robinson, Count  Basie, Sweet Tee, Lani Guinier, Camille A. Brown, Gregg Vance (aka Coach Chuck), W.E.B Dubois and  Naomi Osaka. It also features QR codes with biographical information on each person depicted.


“Beautification projects like this one in our district are incredibly important. They not only allow for  residents to take pride in their community, but also embrace the rich history of Southeast Queens. I  would like to thank JCAL for their extensive search in finding an artist that could capture the culture  of Queens,” said Council Member Nantasha Williams. “I would like to congratulate and thank the  artist, Eric Black, for his artistic creativity in reimagining this block that truly reflects Queens. I also  want to thank my predecessor, I. Daneek Miller, for funding this project.”

“The cultural and intellectual icons and luminaries we are honoring with this mural did not just help  to shape the artistic legacy that define who we are as a community,” said District Leader and former  City Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “They also worked to shape and intricately define our values.  We now have an opportunity to recognize the sheroes and heroes of Southeast Queens, control our  own narrative, and tell our story not only in our own backyard but with the world. I am extremely  proud of this project and thank my successor, Council Member Nantasha Williams, for keeping the  vision alive and seeing it to fruition!”

“The Queens Reflections mural highlights Southeast Queens luminaries that help shape our vibrant  neighborhoods and open spaces,” said NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “As  someone who grew up around the corner from Daniel O’Connell Park and spent many summer days  there, I am excited the community will be able to celebrate and memorialize a visual representation  of Black excellence, and recognize the contributions of our sheroes and heroes through this mural. I  applaud Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning and NYC Parks for their commitment to commemorate  and elevate the lives of Southeast Queens residents and their outstanding contributions to American  history.”

“This mural is a vibrant celebration of Southeast Queens, and we are happy to exhibit the artwork at  O’Connell Playground through our Art in the Parks program,” said NYC Parks Queens Borough  Commissioner Michael Dockett. “We thank the Council Member’s office and the Jamaica Center for  Arts and Learning for their partnership on this project.”

Queens Reflectionsis a visual trip down memory lane, paired with notable quotes that should inspire  and motivate the viewer,” said artist Eric Black. “It’s more than a collection of images. For me, it’s a  museum outside that should take people through the rich and inspirational history of this part of  Queens. I wanted to have a healthy mix of people from all aspects of life—some figures that people  instantly recognize, to some that might be overlooked. These creative portraits should spark people’s  memories and remind them of the power that we all have as individuals and as a collective.

“Also, I couldn’t have done this alone,” Black added. “My best friend, Adrian Brown, an artist and  musician who creates motivational music for all ages, as well as a crew of talented young artists, made  this project a delight to work on. Justice Levenson has been working with me for over five years, developing his artistic and filmmaking talents; he definitely keeps me grounded and plugged into the  new generation. Justice’s younger brother, Tyler Blau, is a talented actor about to attend the  LaGuardia School for the Performing Arts. Nicole Wang, another Queens native, was brought to my  attention by Tyler with her impressive portfolio of masterful illustrations. These young artists all had  a drive to learn and a passion for the arts and are waiting for the next big project.”


“Competition was tough for this project,” noted JCAL Manager of Special Projects Wendy Arimah  Berot. “Our objective was to select an artist who not only understood the roots of the community but  has a personal connection to it. Eric, who is from Cambria Heights, possesses an artistic expression  that fulfilled both. His chosen balance of sensibilities and iconic figures speaks volumes to the richness  of Southeast Queens. We are extremely proud of the work he’s doing.”

“This is an extraordinary example of teamwork and how it elevates our community,” added JCAL  Artistic Director Courtney Ffrench. “Like a well-trained 4×400 relay team, the baton started in the  office of then-Council Member Miller, then passed to JCAL, then to NYC Parks, and finally into the  masterful hands of artist Eric Black. What started as a dream has arrived.”

Queens Reflectionsis an eye-popping triumph of boundless imagination and endless pride,” said JCAL  Executive Director Leonard Jacobs. “It proves yet again that right here, living among our families and  friends and neighbors are some extraordinarily expressive and fiercely imaginative artists with the  power and skill to draw all of New York City’s attention to the O’Connell Playground. From the start,  Eric Black showed that he was just such an artist—with the results now for all to see. How blessed are  we to celebrate his work as he lifts up the legends of our community across time.”

About JCAL 

Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), founded in 1972, is a multidisciplinary arts center based in the  diverse community of Southeast Queens. Our mission is devoted to offering quality visual, performing, and  literary arts, and to providing accessible education programs to encourage participation in the arts. JCAL is  open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm; closed Sundays and major holidays. For additional  information, call JCAL at 718-658-7400 or visit JCAL.org.