Marcelo Ment

BXFoxx JMZ Walls Bushwick street art nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

“Helping to make the JMZ lines more colorful one wall, one gate, one space at a time,” JMZ Walls continues to bring a diverse range of first-rate street art and graffiti — by both local and global artists — to South Bushwick. I recently had the opportunity to speak to its founder, Alberto Mejia.

When was JMZ Walls first launched?

In the fall of 2014.

What spurred you to initiate it?

I’d been living in Bushwick – off the JMZ lines – for 20 years. In the past several years, I saw positive changes in in other parts of Bushwick that I didn’t see happening here.

Thia govaldi and 17 matrix jmz walls bushwick nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

And many of these changes are directly related to the art that had begun surfacing on the streets.

Yes! My vision was to bring street artists, graffiti writers and muralists to my end of Bushwick. And I didn’t think that these genres should be kept separate from one another.  Why shouldn’t graffiti writers share space with street artists and muralists?

I agree! And the visual impact of JMZ Walls has been great. How did you go about getting walls for artists?

I know many of the building owners. At first I started asking for gates, and soon the owners were offering walls to me.

for jmz walls bushwick street art nyc Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

Who were some of the first artists to paint for JMZ Walls?

The first piece was by a German graffiti writer, Byond.  He was followed by Queen Andrea, Claw Money and Dasic Fernandez.  I was inspired by Queen Andrea, in fact, to dedicate an entire block — Lawton Street — to female artists!

How do you decide which artists to include?

I’m interested in giving opportunities to local graffiti artists who haven’t had all that many occasions to paint in legal spots. And I love hosting talented artists from abroad who are seeking a space to paint.  I also like giving opportunities to artists who don’t generally paint in public spaces.

kes jmz walls graffiti bushwick Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

Yes! I was introduced to several artists – including BK Foxx – through JMZ Walls. How has the local community responded to JMZ Walls?

Families have been very appreciative, and the kids love the art. I often hear them saying, “That’s cool!” when they pass by.

Yup! You have certainly enlivened this end of Bushwick! It’s worth a ride on the J, M or Z line out here just to see these walls you’ve curated! I’ve done it often! What – would you say – has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge has been financing it. Supplies and paints are expensive, and artists’ budgets are often limited. You can find out here how you can help support us through our recently launched GoFundMe Campaign.

spraycam street art jmz walls Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

Thank you for all that you’ve done for the community and for all of us street art and graffiti aficionados. We look forward to what’s ahead for JMZ Walls.  And good luck with your GoFundMe Campaign.

Images

1. BK Foxx

2. Brazilian artists Thiago Valdi & l7m

3. Rio de Janeiro-based  Marcelo Ment

4. Kesta 

5. Montreal-based Philippe Mastrocola aka Spraycam

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Tara Murray; 3-5 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 Speaking with <em>JMZ Walls</em> Founder and Curator Alberto Mejia

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INTI santiago chile street art <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Outdoor Gallery NYC author Yoav Litvin recently returned from a five-month trip abroad, where he explored the street art in several key South American cities and towns. I had a chance to catch up with him last week:

Those of us following you on Instagram got a mere glimpse into your incredible adventures on the streets of South America. You visited Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. What spurred your interest in that region?

I was curious. I had seen amazing works from South America online, and while I exploring the streets of NYC, I had met a number of South American artists.

Gonzalo Sánchez Painters vaparaiso <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

In what ways did your findings meet your expectations?

I expected to be blown away and inspired. And I was — beyond any expectations.

Stinkfish and APC crew street art bogota <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What were some of the highlights of your trip?

There were so many!  Among them were: walking around the streets of Lima with Entes; coming unexpectedly upon an art festival in La Paz, Bolivia and being in São Paulo during its 3rd annual Graffiti Fine Art Biennial.

Entes y Pesimo Lima street art <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Decertor street art Lima Peru <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Do any particular impressions stand out? 

The juxtaposition between Peru’s rich culture and history and its current street art particularly struck me. And navigating Bogota was what NYC was like for me in the early 80′s. I always had to keep my eyes open!

Marcelo Mente street art Rio de Janeiro <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Tarm1 street art rio de janeiro <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What about some of the challenges along the way?

The biggest challenge — I would say — was the language. And living in the Vidigal favela in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro certainly was an experience.

Nove graffiti sao paulo brazil <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Where do you think the street art scene in South America is going? Do you think it will continue to remain so authentic?

It is difficult to generalize as each city and town is unique. But I suspect that it will continue to thrive.

Apitatan street art quito ecuador <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What’s next for you? 

This Wednesday evening, May 27, I will be speaking about my personal style as a street art and graffiti documentarian, along with the role — as I see it — of the street art photographer.  After sharing some of my experiences in photographing NYC street art and graffiti and publishing Outdoor Gallery NYC, I will speak about my recent trip abroad and present many images of street art that I photographed in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. The event will take place 7:00 - 9:00pm at Nowhere Studios, 582 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn.

EVENT FLYER <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Note: All photographs © Yoav Litvin, 2015

1. Inti, Santiago, Chile 

2. Gonzalo Sánchez “Painters”, Valparaíso, Chile

3. Stinkfish and the APC Crew, Bogota, Colombia

4. Entes & Pésimo & 5. Decertor, Lima, Peru

6. Marcelo Ment & 7. Tarm1, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8. Nove, São Paulo, Brazil 

9. Apitatan, Quito, Ecuador

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