Tropical plants are taking root in Upper Fells Point, where Afro-Latina muralist Jaz Erenberg is turning her home into a work of art.
“For the Love of Tropics” is the title of a three-story mural that Erenberg is painting this summer on the stucco front façade of her house at 127 S. Durham St.
A 2017 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and former Designer-in-Residence for the Neighborhood Design Center, Erenberg heads Jaz Erenberg ART LLC and works as a muralist and community organizer, painting “community-engaged” murals for public schools and neighborhood associations.
Her work can be found in Belair-Edison; Sandtown-Winchester; East Baltimore Midway; Cherry Hill; Highlandtown; Ednor Gardens; and at the Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School on Sinclair Lane. Her website is www.jazerenberg.com and her Instagram is @jaz_erenberg.
“I strive to create public spaces that are a reflection of the people that build, maintain and uphold our city,” Erenberg says on her resume. “Valuing community engagement during the design and installation phases helps to reignite a sense of ownership and pride within those neighborhoods. It also ensures that, together, we are telling the unique story of each community.”
After living on Durham Street for eight years and painting for others, Erenberg said, she decided “it was about time I painted my own house.” The mural is 25 feet high and 14 feet wide. She’s been working on it as a weekend project for the past month or so and is nearly finished, with help from her husband Doron Erenberg and stepson Aiden. “This has really been a family project,” she said.
Erenberg, 32, said she often includes plants in her murals and thought they’d be a good image for her house. “It’s what I like to paint.”
She said she originally had two concepts, the tropical plant mural and a more “graphic” but still tropical theme, and asked her followers on Instagram to help her choose which one to paint.
She said she’s using Benjamin Moore latex paint for her mural and gets her supplies exclusively at the Ace hardware store in Canton because it’s small, local and employee-owned: “That’s really important for the work that I do.”
The mural is a welcome bright spot for the area, said neighbor Liz Bement.
“During this time when we’re hearing so much bad news in the city, this initiative is creating a sense of camaraderie among the neighbors, and is improving the way people feel about their neighbors and neighborhood,” Bement said,
“It’s been really positive,” Erenberg said of the reaction she’s had. “A lot of people who live in our neighborhood, or walk down our block, most likely work at Hopkins [Hospital], so they’re walking by twice a day. Maybe they’ve had a terrible day, but they get to walk by this and be reminded that there are good things in life.”