In October 2019, the Arts Council of Princeton announced that work would begin on a mural entitled Journey, located at John Street and Leigh Avenue. Lead artist, Marlon Davila, who grew up in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood is the ACP’s Fall 2019 Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence, bringing his art to life on the exterior wall of La Lupita Groceries.
Marlon Davila is a first-generation Guatemalan who was born and raised in Princeton. He studied Fashion at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and continued his education in Fine Arts and painting at Mercer County Community College (MCCC). Davila graduated from MCCC with honors and was awarded the Jack Harris Memorial Scholarship for his excellence in Fine Arts. In May, 2017, he attended Art Escape Italy, a workshop led by Hendrik Uldalen which further honed his love of painting. He recently completed the Artists Teaching Art program at the Arts Council of Princeton and is now teaches art for children at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.
Davila’s main goal is for his art is to open people’s eyes to other perspectives on life and the world that we all share. His artwork is influenced by nature, romanticism, surrealism, and the use of symbols as representation of an idea. His bold use of color is a direct link to his Mayan ancestry as is his knowledge of fashion, culture and above all, love.
“I remember being a kid that loved coloring books and drawing. Years later, I still have that same passion for art, and I am creating a mural on this beautiful wall in my hometown on the exact street where I lived for many years,” said Marlon Davila. “It’s incredibly meaningful for me to give back to my community and I am truly grateful to the Arts Council of Princeton and its supporters for believing in me and for giving me this unique opportunity.”
This project would not be possible without the support of Timothy M. Andrews, a longtime friend and supporter of the Arts Council of Princeton, who has generously underwritten the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program for the next three years.
Andrews’ generosity will enable two artists every year to each produce a work of art – mural, a sculpture, whatever they envision. According to Andrews, “At least three of the six will be conceived for a specific public space and created after we gain neighborhood approvals and raise additional funds to pay for the preparation, supplies, and installation.”
After an initial meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission regarding the proposal for Davila’s mural, the ACP hosted a neighborhood meeting as well as attending two additional Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association meetings, to reach a positive consensus for the project. The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood is a diverse and thriving place that honors its past as well as planning and ‘listening’ for a vibrant future where all are included.