Torch Fuego

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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Several Newark-based graffiti artists, collectively known as The Artchitectz, have been busily transforming the inside of an abandoned football stadium in Newark into a boxing academy and — soon to be — educational facility. Operating in partnership with the City of Newark, the mission of the Ironbound Boxing Academy is: “Build your skills. Build your brand. Build your future.” On Saturday, February 4th, the Ironbound Boxing Academy — a component of Ironbound USA, founded by Gary Bloore — hosted an Open House celebrating the completion of phase one.  Pictured above is the work of Torch Fuego and Risky. What follows are several more images, captured by Rachel Fawn Alban, providing us with a glimpse into the interior of the Ironbound Boxing Academy.

Torch Fuego

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 Remi3 with the Ironbound Boxing Academy‘s mission

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Two young Ironbound Boxing Academy members “building their skills”

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Torch Fuego, as the Ironbound Boxing Academy readies for this year’s Paint for Pink

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Keith Colon, Gary BlooreObalaji Baraka & Torch Fuego

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Located at 226 Rome Street, The Ironbound Boxing Academy is open Monday 4:00 – 6:00pm; Tuesday – Friday: 4:00 – 7:30pm and Sat: 12:00 – 4:00pm.

Photos by Rachel Fawn Alban

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While in Baltimore last month, we had the opportunity to visit Urban Evolution, a first-rate gym that is also a graffiti lover’s wonderland. Pictured above is by Newark-based Syko Roxx. What follows are several more pieces — many by NJ-based writers — that have made their way onto the walls of Urban Evolution:

NJ-based Emo

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NYC-based Spot, KMS

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NJ-based 4sakn

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Baltimore-based Meca with fragment of piece by Grope above it

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NJ-based Veer One

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 NJ-based Tiper

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NJ-based Torch Fuego

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And Baltimore-based dlordink 

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Note: Urban Evolution is located at  6801 Eastern Avenue in Baltimore, MD

Photo credits: 1-3, 5, 6, 8 & 9 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 7 Tara Murray

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This past Saturday, Paint for Pink brought over two dozen artists and scores of folks of all ages to Abington Ave & 4th Street in Newark, New Jersey.  Here’s what Ironbound founder Gary Bloore and Newark-based Reme3 — his partner in this project, along with Torch Fuego — had to say about the event when I caught up with them on Sunday:

This is the second annual Paint for Pink here in Newark. What initially inspired this project?

We wanted to do something positive for my Lisa who is battling breast cancer.  And so we came up with the idea of painting names of people dear to us who have been affected by the disease.

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What — would you say — is the main mission of this project?

It is to educate and create awareness of breast cancer.

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How does this year’s Paint for Pink differ from last year’s event?  I notice that the location is far more accessible.

Yes. We chose a more visible site for it. And we added an educational and health element to it.

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You seem to have partnered with quite a few resources.

Yes! Newark Tech High School was engaged with the project through Ironbound, and Rutgers School of Nursing (RSN) brought their Children’s Health Project mobile unit to the event. Dozens of folks in the community who don’t have insurance were able to get general health examinations and breast cancer screenings.

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That’s quite impressive! And you seem to have engaged folks of all ages.

Yes. Many children joined in the fun, as well!

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What were some of the challenges presented by Paint for Pink?

Waiting for the permit! And successfully infusing the health and educational elements into it was also a challenge.

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To what do you attribute the obvious success of this year’s Paint for Pink?

That we connected to people who could make things happen!

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And thank you for making such an inspiring project happen!

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Images

1. Mr Cee, Seoz & Chubby Womak

2. Reme3 for Lisa

3. Mocks for his aunt, Tina

4. Ram, Ziren and Chek

5. Twerk for his brother, Alex, and for 17-year-old YaYi

6. Neighborhood kids against backdrop of artist to be identified and Spidee for his high school art teacher

7. Goomba, close-up, for his aunt

8. Torch Fuego and Elrizl

9. Reme3 and Ironbound founder Gary Bloore against backdrop by RamZiren and Chek

Photo credits:  3, 4, 6 & 7 Tara Murray; 1, 2, 5, 8 & 9 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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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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