‘Los Amo, One Love’ mural is all about unity

By Naundi Armour
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

On the corner of Alston Avenue and East Main Street sits Los Primos Supermarket and the eye-catching mural on the Alston Avenue side of the building.

Although no one was able to tell the VOICE about the artist, many residents think the mural depicts the 300-block Northeast Central Durham (NECD) area.

(Editor’s Note: One day after this story was posted on Sept. 22, VOICE reporter April Simon offers this new information:

the artist who created the mural on the Los Primos building is named Artie Barksdale. http://www.artiebarksdale.com/.
He painted it in 2000 or 2001, as part of the New Immigrants in Northeast Central Durham Project. Bull City Market was housed in that building at the time.

Durham artist Artie Barksdale painted the Los Primos mural about 10 years ago, according to VOICE reporter April Simon. (Staff Photo by Naundi Armour)

“It tells the story of the neighborhood,” said resident Brianna Perry.

The tops of apartment buildings in the night sky, a griot-like figure telling seated shadowed faces stories, a woman holding her child, a ‘Black and Brown’ couple holding hands, a two-shaded ‘Black and Brown’ man playing his guitar, and a boy and girl who appear to be pointing  at a star-shaped piñata, all hang out amidst a rainbow background with “LOS AMO, ONE LOVE” scrawled above.

“That (mural), in my opinion promotes unity in our community,” said local resident, Sheeka Taylor.

According to the 2000 census the NECD community consists of 72 percent African-American and 17 percent Hispanic.

Los Primos first opened their doors in 2003, but according to residents and employees the mural was there before Los Primos was.

“I know it’s been here longer than the owner has owned it, that’s for sure,” said Kenny Ray, Los Primos employee.

Murals are one of the very first forms of art, evolving from early civilization paintings on cave walls to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Diego Rivera.

The mural at Los Primos is one of dozens of murals throughout the city of Durham. Other widely recognized murals include the “Black Wall Street” mural at the Hayti Heritage Center by Emily Weinstein, which depicts a number of Hayti community icons, such as Dr. James Shepard, founder of N.C. Central University.

The ‘Threshold Wall of Hope’ also graces the walls of Downtown Durham.

The eye-catching murals on the side of Los Primos grocery store remind local residents of their multicultural ties and sense of community. (Staff hoto by Naundi Armour)

More recently, 14 murals were created by Durham residents and Duke students and staff in several Southwest Durham neighborhoods in an effort to bring people together and enhance the relationship between Duke University and Durham residents.

The 14 murals were also featured in ‘Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life’ a documentary/public art project that grew out of local conversations about neighborhood goals in Southwest Central Durham.

But for NECD residents the mural at Los Primos is more than a project, it’s a symbol of their community.

“I always thought it (the mural) showed the true beauty of our community coming together, you know, the ‘Black and Brown’,” said Chris Ovid, local resident. “Los amo, one love.”

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