White artist encounters outrage over mural depicting Black man in trash can

Outrage over the image of a Black man dumped in the garbage in a new mural has led to the artist changing his work.

Arnie Charnick thegrio.com
Artist in Residence, Arnie Charnick painted all three custom murals for NYC's Hotel Edison. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The idea that Black men are disposable was likely the (conscious or unconcious) thinking behind a racist painting on the wall of a NYC hotel featuring a Black man sitting in a garbage can with the words: “PLACE LITTER HERE” scribbled on it.

The artist, 71-year-old Arnie Charnick, has now painted over the disparaging tagline after much backlash, reports the NY Daily News. A little too late since the insensitive picture of the man sitting in a trash can remains.

“I took the sign out,” said Charnick. “I could have made it a white guy. It’s a suffering soul,” he explained. “That’s what it’s meant to show.”

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“I could have made it a white guy. It’s a suffering soul,” explained Artie Charnick.

Charnick said the wall sized painting depicting New York City in the 1970s, prompted him to include the dumpster detail in the lower left corner of the painting.

Hotel staff, however, quickly pointed out the discriminatory detail in the mural.

“I welcome remarks from people,” said Charnick in response to the criticism of his artwork. “I don’t like it when they get lawyers.”

The mural is in the lobby of Hotel Edison and is a three-part mural of Times Square that infuses 70s era characters, headlines and signs that were prominent at that time, according to reports.

One portion called “Loosey Deucey” summarizes the 1965-90 era. It includes prostitutes and porn houses which proliferated the Times Square area at he time and has since become a family friendly stop for tourists and native New Yorkers alike.

“I prefer Times Squares funky to Disney,” said Charnick.

Other portions of the mural include: 1935-65 “Post-War Whoopee” about the V-J Day kiss and a 1904-35 musical segment called “Troupe du Jour”. However, that portion includes another controversial painting of Al Jolson in black face in “The Jazz Singer.”

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Now that Charnick has had received ample feedback about the impact of his paintings, he is reflecting on how he could have better made his point.

“‘The Jazz Singer’ was the first talkie,” he added. “And while it wasn’t in my consciousness, a white actor in blackface taking a knee relates to Black athletes taking a knee in protest today. I support these athletes, 100%.”