Jersey City Monopoly Mural
Artist: Gary Wynans
Date of Action: July 20, 2016
Region: North America
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Jersey City Mural Arts Program, Jersey City
Description of Artwork: In May, the Jersey City Mural Arts Program commissioned local artist Gary Wynans, aka Mr. AbiLLity, to create a 33-foot floor mural on the busy pedestrian plaza at Newark Avenue. Referencing the traditional Monopoly board game, Wynans’ floor mural used Jersey City street names and local icons, harnessing the game’s focus on money and real estate to bring attention to income disparities and gentrification in real-life Jersey City.
The Incident: Several elements of the mural drew complaints, and Wynans was asked to make changes during the painting installation, even though the design had already been approved. The “Jail” square on the board, which contained a cartoon self-portrait of the artist behind bars, provoked complaints from residents, including state Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who saw not the artist's self-portrait but a negative stereotype about people of color (Mr. Wynans is Italian and Puerto Rican). McKnight and others demanded that the self-portrait be removed or changed. The City pointed over the Jail square and then, without consulting the artist further, they painted over the entire Monopoly Board.
Results of Incident: Despite receiving a letter from NCAC, the City painted over Monopoly Board without responding to objections.