Lesk

In 2015 Ironbound founder Gary Bloore started Paint for Pink when his partner, Lisa Byron, was battling breast cancer. After years of fighting the disease, Lisa passed on December 8th, 2016.  Gary Bloore has continued the tradition of Paint for Pink in Lisa’s memory. I recently met up with Gary at Ironbound‘s new site, a huge — once abandoned stadium — at 226 Rome Street in Newark, NJ, the home of this year’s Paint for Pink.

What an amazing site this is! Can you tell us a bit about it?

What was once a 4,500-seat concrete bleacher stadium was shut down and abandoned in 1987.  No one wanted to touch it. There was trash everywhere — broken bottles, litter, rubbish of every type. And then in May, we got permission to clean it up.

That’s quite a feat! How did you manage to do that?

Lots of elbow grease and determination. And visions of events — such as this one — that could take place here. There were about 50 volunteers. It has been a year of expansion for us working in partnership with Ironbound president Mike Steadman, along with the City of Newark. It’s a symbol of rebirth for us. Lisa died in December, and in these past few months we took a dead stadium and put life into it.

What is the particular mission of this event — Paint for Pink

Its mission is to create and spread awareness of breast cancer and other health-related issues. The Rutgers Community Health Center brought a mobile van and gave free exams. Since July, in fact, we have been working with the Rutgers School of Nursing and Newark Tech High School’s Teal Center in establishing the LIT (Learning, Inspiring Teaching) Program with the mission of teaching Newark Tech High School kids how to teach other kids about health issues.

What a great concept! How many artists participated in this year’s Paint for Pink event?

Twenty-eight artists contributed. In addition to the Newark-based artists The Artchitectz, others from out-of-town — such as Dojo and Repo — joined us.

And how was the response?

It was tremendous!  There was tremendous community interest and involvement — and lots of entertainment and great food.

Congratulations! It is all so amazing! And the art is wonderful.

Images

1 Goomba, Rizl and BenK

2 Seoz

3 DOJO

4 Repo

5 Chek, Dojo, Lesk, Repo, Tameartz +

6 Mone & Jick +

7 Torch Fuego and Risky — indoors

Photo credit: 1, 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky; 3 courtesy Gary Bloore; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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The most riveting graffiti spots are those we almost never discover on our own.  Located in tunnels, abandoned buildings, rooftops and hidden passageways, they tend to host some of the most creative, innovative writing — from tags to pieces — to be found anywhere. We recently had the opportunity to visit such a spot — the SGK Pit — in Newark, New Jersey and speak to Torch Fuego who has established an office there.

Can you tell us something about this spot! What an amazing oasis of creativity and escape from it all! 

It was founded over 25 years ago by several Old School writers, and it quickly became — largely under the direction of SGK crew founder Syko — a key spot for writers to practice and learn from one another.

And what does SGK stand for? 

Style, Gifted, Knowledge…and more!

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Who were some of the writers who frequented it? Were they all locals?

Among the NJ writers were: Syko, RimeCarmelo “Snow” SigonaTeck and Lesk — who made me an SGK member.  But folks also came from other places. Bom5 used to come down from the Bronx.

How and when did you discover the SGK Pit? And what was your first impression of it?

Baye took me there when I was about 15. I thought, “Wow!.” I couldn’t imagine that such a place existed.

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Do any particular memories stand out?

The few graffiti battles that turned into brawls…lots of parties…and the first time I saw the deer and red foxes that also call this spot home.

And just what is your role here now?

For several years it had been abandoned. But it has recently been revitalized.  And — together with Zew — I basically maintain it. I keep it tidy. I make sure the walls are clean. I introduce new members to old heads, who can pass down knowledge to them. Basically, I want to maintain it as a “practice sanctuary.” And as Syko handed down the torch to me, I feel a huge responsibility.

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That seems like quite a responsibility and quite a bit of work!

Yes! I’ve sacrificed my day job for this.  But it’s worth it!

No doubt!

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Note: You can meet Torch at a special event today — Saturday — from 1-6 pm at Shorty’s. And tonight — starting at 11pm — Clearport Events will host a graffiti after-party at Port-O-Lounge, 286 1st Street in Jersey City, to benefit The Artchitectz, a program that teaches youth creative skills. Check out Torch’s Instagram for additional info.

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 5 Tara Murray; photo two features work by Lesk, with Erizl to his left; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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