Art Transforms Cast Iron Lofts Hi-Rise into Urban Landmark
By Sally Deering
Photos by Fermín Mendoza
You can see it from Rt. 139 feeding into the Holland Tunnel or catch it from downtown Jersey City as you head into Hoboken. David Bowie’s image 18-stories high on the side of the Cast Iron Lofts in Jersey City, painted by international muralist Eduardo Kobra. Bowie passed-away January 10th of this year, but his music and artistry live on throughout the world; and Kobra’s mural is now part of the Jersey City landscape, an urban landmark and the latest addition to the Jersey City Mural Arts Program.
On Fri, Nov. 4, Mayor Steven M. Fulop, members of the City Council, local real estate developers, and local artists welcomed Kobra to Jersey City and thanked him for painting the dazzling, eye-catching image of David Bowie. Mayor Fulop held the press conference on the building’s 5th floor deck where visitors could get an up-close look at the mural, and meet and take pictures with Kobra who spent the past few weeks painting from a scaffold hanging 180-feet off the side of the Cast Iron Lofts hi-rise on Jersey Avenue.
The Mural Arts Program which links established and emerging local, national and international mural artists with property owners city-wide is part of a beautification project to reduce graffiti and engage local residents. Murals are painted on walls throughout Jersey City, turning Jersey City into a public art gallery. According to Mayor Fulop, public art is a shared experience.
“I’m a believer in public art,” Mayor Fulop told the crowd. “If you look at every period of time, public art is a reflection of what’s happening during that time. It’s symbolic of the times we live in. I’m proud of what we’re doing. Jersey City is a thriving art community, and a welcoming community.”
Real estate developer Paul Silverman of Silverman Properties in Jersey City, attended the event. Silverman, who owns several properties in Jersey City, said having artists paint murals on buildings enhances the aesthetics of Jersey City’s architecture and brightens up the vibes in the neighborhood.
“A mural brings attention and discussion,” Silverman said. “It improves the building’s value and it helps make people proud. It changes your feelings about a neighborhood.”
“I think it’s awesome,” local muralist 4Sakn of Jersey City said. “The scale and the colors. The geometric shapes mixed with realism.”
4Sakn sees the mural of David Bowie as a tribute to Bowie’s influence on the music industry. He said, “It’s a memorial to Bowie and all the music he created.”
Kobra’s fame as a mural artist is as international as his mural projects. He just earned entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for the “largest spray paint mural by a team” for his “Ethnicities” mural featuring five faces from five continents painted outside the Rio 2016 Olympic stadium. Working with a four-person crew, Kobra’s murals enhance the landscape of many major cities throughout the world including London, Athens, Lyon, Los Angeles and New York.
Kobra, who is Brazilian and spoke through an interpreter, was asked why he chose an image of David Bowie to paint on the Cast Iron Lofts.
“I wanted to paint David Bowie because he is an icon and I wanted to represent his life to all of his fans,” Kobra told the assembled guests. He mentioned how thrilled he was to be in Jersey City and how an early visit to New York City when he was a boy helped shape his love of art.
“When I was 12, I was inspired by New York artists,” Kobra said. “That’s what made me who I am today. I have enjoyed working on this project. It’s been a privilege and honor to be here.”
Artists John Ruddy and John Falcon are the curators of the Jersey City Artist Studio Tour’s gallery on the first floor of the Cast Iron Lofts building. Ruddy said Kobra’s mural of David Bowie stretches the limits of identity and creativity.
“An icon like David Bowie is a local hero in the spiritual sense,” Ruddy said.
“It’s timely,” Falcon said, “and to have someone on the level of Kobra is great. He’s painted one of the biggest murals in the world.”
Falcon said the Murals Project has established Jersey City as an art city.
“Art helps maintain Jersey City as an art-centric city,” Falcon said. “I hope a lot of other developers finance and pay local and international artists to work.”
Anne Novado, who is soon opening the Novado Gallery on Morgan Street in Jersey City, compared the mural to one of the ancient wonders of the world.
“Its great energy,” Novado said. “It’s a wonderful interpretation of David Bowie. By the scale of the piece, I would compare it to the Pyramids of Egypt.”
For more info on the
Mural Arts Project, go to
For more info on Kobra, go to