Thiago Valdi

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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This is the twelfth in a series of posts featuring the range of faces have surfaced in NYC open spaces:

Werc in Bedford-Stuyvesant with the Open Society Foundations

werc bk Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

Vexta and Askew in Williamsburg for the Greenest Point, one fragment of huge mural

Vexta and askew street art nyc Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista in Bellerose, Queens with the DOT

joel artista street art queens Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

LMNOPI in Long Island City with Arts Org

LMNOPI street art nyc Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

Cern in Williamsburg, close-up

cern street art williamsburg Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

Thiago Valdi in Staten Island with the NYC Arts Cypher

thiago valdi street art staten island Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

Leticia Mandragora, Bushwick 

leticia mandragora street art bushwick nyc Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

 Photo credits: 1, 3 & 7 Tara Murray: 2, 4-6 Lois Stavsky

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.

en play badge 2 Faces in NYC Open Spaces, Part XII: Werc, Vexta with Askew, Joel Artista, LMNOPI, Cern, Thiago Valdi and Leticia Mandragora

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