Rest in paints.
Hundreds of colorful wall murals across the five boroughs pay al fresco homage to lost New Yorkers from across the decades — street art on the very blocks where the honorees once lived.
The faces and names keep their spirits alive for those who still remember them from back in the day and for many who never had the chance to meet them.
“Memorial murals are a tribute and a remembrance of the person but also a way for the families, friends, and the general public to connect and relate to the person,” said Danielle Mastrion, 34, a painter who began working on murals five years ago. “It is a heavy weight to carry to do them justice.”
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"The Brooklyn-based artist, who created notable murals for reality show star Angela (Big Ang) Raiola and 11-year-old drunken driving victim Leandra Rosado, in collaboration with artist Manuel Santiago, 43, said the work requires a sensitive approach and constant communication with those who knew the subjects personally.
In other words, don’t be afraid to ask if you’re getting it right — or wrong.
“It’s almost like you get to know the person that you’re painting without getting the opportunity to meet them,” said Mastrion
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“The more stories you hear, the better it is — because then it tends to look or represent them a little more.”
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More than just a work of art, the murals must capture the subject’s essence.
“It’s a dedication and has to look like them physically but also capture their spirit, soul,” she explained.
On the north-facing side of Carmen Fraser’s three-story Brooklyn walk-up, her fallen sons Mikey and Kirk greet passersby with two big smiles.
The brothers, who died two years apart, remain frozen in paint and time on the wooden panels of the building on Dodworth St. in Bushwick.
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“He got sick, Wednesday, Thursday — and he died Sunday,” said Carmen Fraser, 71, of her youngest son Mikey.
The 23-year-old died suddenly in September 2000 of blood clots in the lungs.
As the tight-knit family grappled with the loss, they were further devastated two years later. Kirk Fraser, a father to two young girls and a boy, was killed at the age of 27 in a motorcycle accident in the Bronx.
“I can’t imagine how far they would have reached,” the pair’s older brother Mark Samuels told the Daily News. “Their horizons. What kind of life they would have been living right now. These are things that cross my mind.”
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"Samuels, 45, says the street portraits, which were painted by Ben Angotti with Spread Art NYC, offer a glimpse into the past for his family’s next generation.
“The mural does in a way keep them here,” he said. “My little boys can actually see their uncles.”Send a Letter to the Editor