New Ridge Hill Mural Pays Tribute to a Jazz Icon

This summer, Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers commissioned two new murals on the Center’s property, and there’s more to come. A new mural in the works is an ode to American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. Why Ella? For those who don’t know, Ella Fitzgerald, although born in Virginia, grew up in Yonkers. Hence why there is a street named after her at the Shopping Center. In fact, the new 12′ x 25′ mural will be on Fitzgerald Street.

The painter and muralist behind the project is Brooklyn artist Danielle Mastrion. Mastrion is a classically trained oil painter who traded her brushes in for spray cans. She has painted murals nationally and internationally since 2012. Her first significant spray paint mural, a portrait of Beastie Boys singer MCA, was at 5 Pointz, the former iconic Queens property that welcomed graffiti and street artists from across the globe. Her “Biggie” mural, now almost ten years old, is the longest-standing mural at the Bushwick Collective, a street art project in Brooklyn.

Ella, dubbed the “First Lady of Song,” spent her childhood in the 1920s living on School Street in Yonkers before moving to Harlem after her mother’s death. A century later at Ridge Hill, Mastrion’s Ella Fitzgerald portrait will celebrate the iconic singer. The mural will be next to the work of Queen Andrea, who recently completed the other two commissioned murals at the Center. When Mastrion was just starting out, it was Queen Andrea who recommended her for projects. Now Mastrion has an impressive resume of her own.

Mastrion’s portrait murals are colorful and surreal in style, a reflection of working in New York’s urban landscape. Many of her works also have social justice themes, focusing on women. This summer, she painted a mural of Breonna Taylor, Gianna Floyd and Harriet Tubman at the annual Hudson Sankofa Black Arts & Cultural Festival. Mastrion has been dreaming of painting Ella for a long time and the finished mural will be on view early this month.

A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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