Art | Design | Fashion

Jun 9


TheLoveMovement_ByToofly THE LOVE MOVEMENT by Toofly. Acrylic & Spraypaint on wood. Check out the process shots
The Love Movement paintings are officially installed at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn , NY. Shout out to the Love Movement /NY4NY team for making it happen. All originally paintings were created, and donated to school by the artists.

In Canarsie, Street Art Shows Its Softer Side from sarnecki on Vimeo.

In Canarsie, Street Art Shows Its Softer Side

Brooklyn, New York

To his high school art students, he is “Mr. De Feo,” or sometimes, when they are trying to rile him, “De Fay Fay.”

To urban art enthusiasts, he is “The Flower Guy,” one of the most prolific and recognizable New York based street artists.

Michael De Feo is one of more than a dozen artists, mostly street and former graffiti artists, who donated works to the Canarsie Educational Campus in Brooklyn, New York for a permanent art installation.

The project, coined NY4NY by its organizers, Nathan VanHook and Ty Saunders of The Love Movement art group, includes fifteen original works located on various walls and doors throughout the three floors of the campus.  Artists painted on either four-by-six or three-by-five foot plywood panels, which were permanently affixed along the school’s corridors over the last six months.

In terms of civic-minded and charitable endeavors, the perpetrators of street art may not seem the most befitting of partners.

But as the genre has slowly ingratiated itself with the cultural establishment over the last decade, the street art movement has found itself an increasingly welcomed guest in the mainstream, including countless international exhibitions.

And even a high school in Brooklyn.

“A lot of our students here don’t get to go into the city, to go to the great museums,” said Adaleza Michelena, principal of the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media, one of the four high schools on the Canarsie Educational Campus. “Some of them don’t even know what a gallery is supposed to be, and now it’s in their school.”

The roster of contributors includes the street art duo Thundercut from Beacon, New York, Brooklyn mainstays such as Ad Deville of Skewville, and the graffiti-cum-public artist Leon Reid IV, formerly known as VERBS.

Fixtures of the nineties graffiti scene such as Maria Castillo, known through her tag “Toofly,” also donated original paintings, alongside contemporaries more commonly known for design work, including artists Mike Perry, Morning Breath, Abe Lincoln Jr., and others.

“There’s an energy to the work that really speaks to youth,” said Kalene Rivers, a contributing artist who works under the name Thundercut along with her husband, Daniel Weise. “It’s such an amazing concept to bring that energy into the halls of a school that has some issues,” said Rivers.

“It’s more of an art that they can connect to,” said Tracee Galante, an English Language Arts teacher at the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media. A sentiment underlined by Mr. De Feo, “Children more than adults recognize street art,” he said, “they were the ones that saw me during the day on the streets.  Parents never saw me, but the kids saw me.”

Community-based art and philanthropic work is not unchartered ground for street artists.  Last year, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, the artist Swoon spearheaded a sustainable building project called Konbit Shelter. Even the elusive Bansky donated proceeds from his works to post bail for two imprisoned Russian artists of the Voina collective.

For the NY4NY contributing artists, most admitted they regularly turn down charitable art projects—not because they’re unwilling, but because they receive more requests than they could ever fulfill.

As to whether the work of these artists (many of who have admittedly produced illegal street art) is appropriate in a school, Principal Michelena said, “Everybody who has success in their career is a potential roll model for our students, regardless of their background.”

For that matter, when leading street artists direct academy award nominated films (Banksy, Exit Through The Gift Shop), and design iconic images that embody a president’s candidacy (Shepard Fairey, The Obama “Hope” poster), discouraging students from venerating such individuals is an ill-fated task.

Abe Lincoln Jr., a contributing artist who declined to give more than his street name, painted a piece with green paint streaking down from the phrase “Positive Mental Attitude,” spilling over a sketch of three young children smiling and bearing the symbols of the “straight edge” lifestyle.

“When I was a teenager, the ‘Stay in School,’ ‘Don’t do Drugs’ approach didn’t really resonate with me” said Abe Lincoln Jr., “so I wanted to paint something that speaks to the students on a level that hopefully they could appreciate.”

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