Jersey City’s Street Art Murals {+ the Stories Behind Them}

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Whether you’re grabbing a drink at South House on the pedestrian-only section of Newark Ave or getting dinner in Journal Square’s Little India, you will not only pass by people from all walks of life, but you’re bound to run into some of Jersey City’s street art. Back in 2013, the Jersey City Mural Arts Program was created to help connect mural artists with property owners, to involve the community, and to turn Jersey City into a sprawling art gallery. City Spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill stated, “Along with commissioning the murals, the city cleaned out a formerly vacant and garbage-strewn lot facing the wall, erected a new fence, and mulched and planted trees and flowers, transforming the lot into a beautiful community space.” In total, the program helped 35 artists create 55 murals. We picked out 10 of our favorite murals and highlighted the stories behind them and the artists who created them. 

Mata Ruda {211 Bay Street}

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Growing up in San Jose, Costa Rica, moving to Caracas, Venezula when he was 11, and migrating to the United States,  Mata Ruda has first-hand experience of the trials and tribulations of being an immigrant. Ruda wanted to take his experience and try to highlight under-represented communities by bringing to light local culture and the issues they face. He explains: “I explore the things displaced migrants and refugees conceal and carry with them throughout their life, [which is] the very foundation of which immigrant communities are made.”

Within this mural, Ruda wanted to connect with immigrants of all nationalities and backgrounds by making the subject anonymous. He also wanted to emphasize the importance of community, adding a hummingbird over the man’s heart to represent the strong connection to home.  The mountain peak is a reference to the Volcano Irazu from Ruda’s hometown in Costa Rica. “The journey is the destination, seeking elevation and refuge, migrants move mountains.”

Layga Nuna Yaway Lunar New Year {1st and Cole Street}

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LNY is an artist, large scale muralist, educator, and organizer that migrated from Cuenca, Ecuador at an early age. His work highlights the stories of having a cross-cultural identity and the life of a migrant while also exposing issues of injustice, racism, and xenophobia in the world. “I focus on amplifying the silenced narratives of under-served communities, migrants and people of color by using the power of public art and figurative representation. My aim is to foster a better present by creating a space where one can imagine a brighter and just future, while at the same time questioning and confronting oppression, prejudice and exploitation.”

Ruda is also an active public speaker, educator, mentor, and one of the founding members of  Young New Yorkers, an art program for juveniles tried as adults in Brooklyn, NY.

Alice Pasquini {276 First Street}

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Alice Pasquini’s mural is actually part of a series of murals that begins in Rockaway Beach, NY. A girl sends a paper air plane to another girl in Inwood, NY where she reads the note on the wall of the Amistad and Muscota schools. The final mural in Jersey City has the words “New Journey”, which is a play on New Jersey and represents “…hope, dreams, and new beginnings to the community“.

Pasquini’s background as a Roman artist, an illustrator, and a set designer allowed her to explore a variety of avenues including working in 3D mediums and exploring feminine vitality. But her biggest inspiration is creating in the street environment: “The unknown place [I create my art] is now a new place. Now it’s meaning something because of just a painted wall. I don’t know if it’s art or not what I am doing but I think it makes me feel alive.”

Andres Von Chrzanowski {Case Ma’Claim} {200 Newark Ave}

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CASE Ma’Claim from Frankfurt, Germany is known as one of the most innovative street artists. His work combines photorealism with surrealism and often incorporates hands to symbolize unity and power. Ma’Claim “…re-question[s] many commonly found ideas about humanity, reinforcing them with strange and awe-inspiring images.” This includes the mass-produced society that we live in, which he rebels against by painstakingly hand-painting all of his work. Despite creating street art in over twenty countries, his work has an universal appeal as the story told by the graphic hand gestures is something that is understood by all.

Antonio Segura Donat {Dulk} {17 Cole Street}

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At an early age, Dulk loved sketching exotic animals he found in books or the fish, dogs, and horses that lived on his property where her grew up in Valencia, Spain. Dulk loves exploring a variety of mediums including street art, painting, advertising and sculpture all of which connect back to his world that “is a surrealistic landscape full of imaginary details, rising up in factions against humans.

Dulk visited two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit and drew inspiration from the impact on Jersey City. Incorporating one of his signature characters saving a girl hold a “I <3 NJ” emblem, making this a heart-felt, inspiring mural for Jersey City.

Catherine Hart {137/139 Newark Ave}

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Catherine Hart is muralist, painter, and glass-artist from California. Hart considers herself a mark maker, which became her focus after working as an apprentice on a community-based mural through Mid-America Art Alliance in Texas. Hart is a leader in mural projects all over the country as well as the co-founder of the Y’all Art Project, which is art program pairing up schools and communities in need of art programs. “One of the most important gifts I can help give to the world is to help people know that the world is ours to create.

Gaia {151 Newark Ave}

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Gaia is a New York City native that is on the list of Forbes 30 under 30 list in Art and Style. He became one of the most famous street artists in Baltimore before graduating college due to a pop-up street art show through Ad Hoc Art in Brooklyn and his early work at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The mural on Newark Ave actually covered over a mural that was once the largest in the country, painted in the mid-1990s by Franc Palaia and his team. Even though the mural was fading and peeling, it sparked controversy with the media which is when the Jersey City Mural Arts Program commissioned Gaia to give the mural a new life.

The white male in the mural is one of the colonists that established New Amsterdam, which includes part of New Jersey. The other figure is a Lenape native, which is a tribe that used to live in present day New Jersey. Gaia’s main focus in a lot of his work is the use of “…animal imagery to underscore his interest in bringing nature to urban landscapes” which he incorporates into this mural with the use of flowers reminiscent of William Heda, a dutch artist.

Shepard Fairey {121-125 Newark Avenue}

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Even though you may not have heard of Shepard Fairey, you probably have seen his work. He is the artist behind the 2008 Obama Hope campaign. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Fairey works are a mixture of traditional and commercial that communicate his voice on society though a variety of mediums. “Art is not always meant to be decorative or soothing, in fact, it can create uncomfortable conversations and stimulate uncomfortable emotions,” he stated. Fairey’s mural in downtown Jersey City is a nod to the renaissance the city is undergoing while paying homage to the neighboring sea shore and the beauty of Mother Nature.

Mike Makatron {200 Newark Ave}

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Mike Makatron is a Melbourne, Australia based artist that has painted the Berlin Wall and exhibited everywhere from Brazil to Japan. He experimented with a range of styles in his younger years including everything from elaborate illustration, botanicals, indigenous spirits iconography, and psychedelic mushrooms.

The focus of his present work is creating a world where nature retaliates against humanity and reclaims the earth back from civilization. All of his work, especially this one, “conveys an imperative message to [all of us] confined in the concrete jungle to stay connected to the animal within [ourselves] that lives in the natural world.”

Fintan Magee {191 Bay Street}

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Fintan Magee was born in Lismore New South Wales but grew up in Brisbane where he became a well-known graffiti artist. He rejects the media’s label for him as the “Australian Banksey” and dubs it “lazy journalism.” Magee often weaves in his own stories to express global issues such as a solo show in Backwords Gallery in Melbourne where he created work revolving around his personal experience with the 2011 Brisbane floods.

Magee’s “work often deals with environmental issues… [and] often uses personal stories to talk about broader issues like climate change and the migrant crisis.” The topics Magee tends to lean towards include waste, consumption, transition, and nostalgia.

Map of Jersey City Murals

Have you spotted more Jersey City street art? Tag us on Instagram @HobokenGirlBlog to share your finds!


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Cait lived in Weehawken for three years before moving to Jersey City a year ago. Coming from a family of restaurateurs and chefs, Cait loves everything food-related. Her passion lies in connecting and learning about people through food, whether it’s cooking, eating at a local hole-in-the-wall, or serving a meal at a homeless shelter. During the day, Cait is an inventory planner at Macys. At night, you can find her at a new art opening, immersive theater, improv comedy show, or a live music venue.