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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Tropical island scenery now part of Nelly's

By Rich Klein  - reporter / photographer

By: Rich Klein | Democrat
This mural now decorates Nelly's in Monticello.
MONTICELLO - The parents of artist Malik Bridges said they recognized their son's creative talents from some of his early drawings. Mitzi O' Neal, his mom, said one drawing of a football field as an early teen really grabbed her attention. And, before that, it was his drawings of cartoon and Pokémon card characters.
Now, 26, Bridges - a Monticello High graduate now living and working as an artist in Middletown - has just put the final (paintbrush) touches on a beach landscape mural along the side wall of Nelly's Latin Restaurant on Broadway.
Sullivan Renaissance Assistant Director Helen Budrock said the mural project was a small part of Monticello's 2017 municipal project through a Renaissance grant. Village officials had worked closely with Nelly Camacho (owner of Nelly's) on her outdoor seating and signage project, and she had expressed an interest in putting a mural on the side of the building to complement the new façade and paint job.
The Village committed to pay for the cost of materials, up to a maximum of $500 through the municipal grant.
Camacho said she researched some photos on the Internet and found “something tropical with a coconut tree and water” and showed it to Sullivan Renaissance.
The Renaissance folks liked it and brought in Woodbourne artist Abby Langeland, 18 - who had just graduated from Fallsburg High School and who wanted to do volunteer art work. Using Photoshop, Langeland designed a file based on the photograph as a concept for the mural.
After initially painting with Bridges for about three weeks, though, she realized that the task would interfere too much with her SUNY Sullivan class schedule and had to withdraw.
“When Abby ran out of time and got busy with school, she realized she couldn't finish the mural by herself,” Budrock said, “so she reached out to Malik Bridges (at the recommendation of her high school art teacher).
Bridges then took over and completed the mural last week.
Bridges said he sometimes put in four to five hours a day, often in some tough heat, but it was all worth it when people would walk by and offer compliments on the work-in-progress.
“For me to create an image on the wall that made people smile or make a joke, regardless of the content, made me feel like I've created something out of nothing,” he said.
Village of Monticello Manager David Sager said: “I am so thrilled with any opportunity to support public art and culture in the Village of Monticello. So much so that when Sullivan Renaissance had mentioned the opportunity I even lent them my extension ladder. Malik Bridges is a talented young home-grown artist who is full of community pride and enthusiasm. I look forward to working with him on future projects. Nelly's is the perfect example of the rebirth of Monticello in a way that reflects the cultural diversity of our community.”
“The last two years I have been taking my art real seriously as a career,” Bridges said.
Wherever his career takes him, though, the mural literally has his name on it. And those who sit on the bench facing the mural, now have a little tropical escape from busy Broadway.

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