Pablo Machioli, the artist who created the 'Madre Luz' protest statue that was recently vandalized, presented his new diptych, "Reclaim Our Community." (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Oysters, drums, water and sky — all are among the images that now adorn what were once blank walls near a stretch of East Madison Street in Baltimore.

Residents gathered there Saturday to mark the completion of the mural by artist Pablo Machioli with a cookout and music.


"Everything's connected," the 40-year-old artist said as he described the symbols in his work.

The piece is called "Reclaim our Community" and has two parts that are a short distance from each other — one facing East Madison at the corner of North Collington Avenue; the other facing North Madeira Street.

The project was funded by the Waterfront Partnership's Healthy Harbor Initiative, which works to restore Baltimore's harbor.

"Water connects us all, and music connects us all," said Leanna Wetmore, a community coordinator with the initiative. "We use art as a tool for organizing."

Machioli said he drew inspiration from candombe, a rhythm with African roots that is important in the culture of Uruguay, where he is from.

"Through the drums, people experience happiness," he said.

He worked on and off for about a month and a half to complete the project. On Saturday, he greeted residents with hugs, his shorts and shoes splattered with paint.

Pablo Machioli might seem an unlikely person to make a protest statue in Baltimore. He’s not from the United States. Until recently, he wasn’t even an artist.

Reginald Fitzgerald flipped hamburgers, hot dogs and Italian sausages on the grill. The 55-year-old lives around the corner and said the mural reminds him of the importance of community and home.

"At the end of the day, when you come home, that's when you feel comfortable," he said.

Fitzgerald is president of Reclaim our Community, a group of residents who have come together in the neighborhood known as Middle East.

"A lot of developers are coming into the community and rearranging and changing" the neighborhood near Johns Hopkins Hospital, he said. "We're trying to show them we can survive in the community as well."

A drum circle was gathered in front of the mural Saturday. William Emerson, a local musician known as Abu the Flutemaker, played instruments made from found objects, like a drum made from an army helmet and a horn made from PVC pipe.

Also featured were some of the drummers who meet regularly for the "Park Vibe" drum circle at Druid Hill Park.

"I really love the beat," said Wanda Savage, who stopped by Saturday afternoon.


Machioli is also the creator of the "Madre Luz" statue of a pregnant woman that stood as a protest symbol in the Wyman Park Dell.

The statue was placed near a statue of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Robert "Stonewall" Jackson — one of four Confederate monuments that Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered removed this month.

After the Confederate monuments were removed, someone shoved the "Madre Luz" to the ground, breaking it, according to police.

Machioli said the statue has since been moved to a farm.

"We want to fix it," he said.

A white man shoved an anti-hate statue from its perch in the Wyman Park Dell on Thursday and then escaped in a car, Baltimore police said.