Zalika Foy grew up on Asbury Park’s Westside an now some of her artwork, in the form of a mural, hangs outside of a store in her old neighborhood. Sheffield’s Market at the corner of Prospect and Bangs Avenues is home to her work. The mural, commissioned by Interfaith Neighbors and entitled “Celebrate the History of Asbury Park” celebrates seven African Americans who made a difference in the lives of Asbury Park residents on both sides of the tracks. Ms. Foy learned the project was being created and submitted samples of her work so she could be considered to be the artist on the project.
Ms. Foy, or “Urbaan Misfit”, as she is also known, is a self-taught artist who studied film and photography before she discovered painting. Her preferred medium is oils and she enjoys portrait painting.
When she learned she was chosen to create the mural, she says she drove around Asbury Park looking at murals and outdoor public art. She found offerings on the boardwalk south of Convention Hall and two on the west side: one on the building on Atkins Avenue where Fats Waller and Andy Masserof wrote “Honey Suckle Rose” and of course on the exterior of the Turf Club.
While both of those represent well known artists, Ms. Foy’s subjects are people she knew even from childhood. People who were important to her.
Uncle Rufus “Barry” Edwards
For example, one face is that of her great uncle Rufus “Barry” Edwards, Jr, a local singer, lead tenor, well-known in the 50s and 60s. According to the mural, and backed up by music historian Charley Horner, Edwards was a founder of The Juveniles.
He also integrated and sang with the legendary Ray and the Darchaes in the mid 1960s. “I remember him when I was a little girl. He was always telling stories. I wish I had listened more,” she reflects.
There was another teacher and storyteller in her life who turned out to be a family member too. This one told stories about studying dance and becoming a professional dancer. Ms. Foy was a student at the Asbury Park Technical Academy of Dance for 10 years. She was taught under the direction of Michelle Burrell for several years before their paths crossed outside the studio.
It was at a funeral — it turned out to be a family funeral — where student and teacher discovered they were cousins.
“Ms Burrell has trained the youth of Asbury (and Neptune!) in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap for more than two decades Some of those students have gone on to achieve professional careers in dance,” she says. And, of course, many have gone on to college; some earning degrees beyond their Bachelors.
Tyrone Smith, a.k.a. “Lord Ice”
Certainly not every teacher is in a classroom, yet the wisdom and vital information they impart shapes and sometimes saves lives. Someone who touched the lives of many youngsters in Asbury Park was Tyrone Smith, a.k.a. “Lord Ice”. This is someone Ms. Foy remembers fondly and for whom she has a great deal of respect. “Not only was he a fireman, but he spent a lot of time just talking to young boys,” she says.
Smith was Asbury Park Recreation Coordinator and Basketball Coach, a truant officer, as well as a member of the Board of Education.
He was also a founding member of the Cazzeek Brothers, a local organization formed to support youth football in the community, and continues its work today.
Tyrone Smith passed away in February 2021.
Anybody on the west side in Asbury Park, well at least anybody that has hair, knows Eddie’s Barber Shop, located in the same spot at the corner of Springwood and Borden Avenues, for the last 80 years. Eddie’s Barber Shop is the city’s oldest Black-owned business. It was founded by Edward Hinton, who owned and operated the shop until his death in 1976. The current proprietor is Hinton’s daughter, Valeria Roberts, who stood at her father’s side to learn the trade, before she and her sister Edrine went off to receive their own formal training. The sisters ran the shop together until Edrine’s death in 2010.
Ms. Foy often went to the shop when one of her parents was receiving a service. “I was just a little girl then, but when I walked in many years later, Valeria looked at me smiling, and said, “I know exactly who you are.”
Ms. Foy’s parents and grandmother still use Eddie’s. She wanted to recognize Mrs. Roberts because she has kept the business alive and thriving and has continued to serve families like hers over the years.
The final Asbury resident on the mural was chosen by Diane Shelton, Community Outreach Specialist at Interfaith Neighbors. Her choice was Nina Summerlin, another resident known by many for the work she has done, particularly with children and education.
“I believe in giving people their roses while they can still enjoy them,” she says. “Nina was the president of Westside Citizens United for over 25 years.”
Ms. Shelton also points to Ms. Summerlin’s work in PTOs over many years, and her starting a back to school giveaway, long before it was taken up by the City. She’s also a member of the Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative and Mayor’s Wellness Committee. In addition, she is a Housing Authority Commissioner.
Now that the mural is complete, the young artist will continue to pursue her passion. She enjoys trips into New York City to visit art galleries and museums, all on her path to see art around the world. Last year, she spent two weeks in Mérida, Mexico and was amazed at the art she found there. Actually, for her birthday this year, she had hoped to visit The Louvre, in Paris, France, but work on the mural took priority. In the meantime, she would like to have a studio for her painting and for the coffee tables she makes. And yes, there is always next year for Paris.