BUFFALO, NY- The Amvets Post in Riverside has been transformed, and an Army veteran is responsible for the military mural.
While some only see graffiti as vandalism, others consider it to be art.
Vinny Alejandro of Buffalo was approached by the River Rock Community Coalition with a blank canvas- the 2000 sq. ft. side of the Amvets Medallion Post 13 in Riverside. He was asked to transform it.
"I did a sketch automatically. Being a vet it was an easy kind of thing to think about."
Alejandro is a former Army specialist who served in Germany from 1993 to 1997 and for the mural he wanted to depict America's military through the years.
He spent nearly 50 man-hours and used 100 spraycans to paint the original 13 star American flag, a desert colored hummer representing the desert conflicts, paratroopers representing WWII, an F-16, Cobra helicopter from Vietnam, M-1 tank, F-22 Raptor and a Coast Guard helicopter, and the seals of all five military branches.
Just a few weeks ago, Alejandro returned to Joplin, Missouri, to touch up another one of his murals. He originally painted it 5 years ago when he was living there and a devastating EF-5 tornado ripped through, killing 160 people.
"We just found a building that we thought was going to be torn down and we did a mural on it and it became a symbol of hope for the city," Alejandro said.
And now that he's living in Buffalo again, his works can be found all over, from University Heights to the Old First Ward. And he serves as a mentor to others who might use the spray can wrong way.
"There's not just the criminal element to it. I like to teach younger kids the history of it. The artform of it. "
"It's meant a lot already. Just for the veterans the post the neighborhood in general, just the sense of pride that it brings back to the community," said George Fitzpatrick, founder of the River Rock Community Coalition.
There is an officially unveiling of the mural and fundraiser planned for Friday, June 17th from 5:30 to 9:30 pm at the Amvets Medallion Post 13 on Review Place in Riverside. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door.
To find out more about the fundraiser, click here.
To find out more about the River Rock Community Coalition click here.
To find out more about Vinny Alejandro and his artwork, click here.