Magdalena Marcenaro

Argentine artist Magdalena Marcenaro aka Magda Love shares with us some of her early experiences and impressions of NYC in this second in our series of interviews with artists born abroad who have made NYC home.


When did you first visit New York City?

I first came here in 2000 with a bag and $300. My uncle had paid for my ticket.

What was your initial impression of this city?

I wasn’t impressed! I was raised in Buenos Aires, a similarly large city. And large cities don’t move me that much. I’m far more impressed by nature.  And I always thought of Europe as far cooler than the United States, as Europeans seem to value culture more than Americans do. London seemed like the ideal place to live because I was into fashion at the time.


Why, then, did you decide to stay in NYC?

Just about everyone was telling me that NYC is the place to be, and then four months later, I was married.

How did your family feel about your move?

My mother was very supportive. She raised me to be independent. She, herself, is very adventurous.


What were some of the challenges you faced when you first came here –before you were married?

My biggest challenge was finding a place to live.  When I first arrived, I called a friend I’d met in Argentina and I spent my first two weeks in her place on Roosevelt Island. There was a huge snowstorm at the time. I can’t forget that! I had never seen snow in Buenos Aires. I then worked in a hostel on 106th Street and Central Park West in exchange for a place to sleep. After that, I just crashed in lots of different spaces, wherever anyone had a spare bed.

That must have been difficult.

Yes, I remember spending an entire night on a computer in Times Square checking for possible rentals.  For a while I ended up renting a room in Alphabet City. It was in the Projects on Avenue D. I didn’t even know what the Projects were. And there I was — walking around in a fur coat! And as my Spanish is so different from that of the people living in the Projects, I could barely communicate with anyone. And, of course, dealing with paper work that any newcomer to the US has to deal with is always a challenge.


How did you meet your basic expenses early on?

I first worked in a coffee shop, and then I worked as a bartender. I also sold some clothes I’d made to Patricia Field. Back in Buenos Aires, I designed fashion.

Have you encountered any prejudice here?

Not here in NYC. Living in this city is like living in a bubble. But when I’m with my son  – who is biracial – outside of NYC, I do feel prejudice.


How has your artwork evolved or changed since you moved here?

It changes all the time. I feel that I’ve grown tremendously. Being around so many talented artists – especially those who paint on the streets  — exposed me to so much. It has helped me develop different techniques.

Have New Yorkers been receptive to your artwork?

Yes. I’ve been fortunate.


What would you like to accomplish here?

I’m eager to paint a huge wall. I want to collaborate with some of my favorite artists. And I’d love to have a solo show. Actually, my goal is to conquer the world!

What do you miss most about your native country?

I miss seeing my brother’s kids grow up and I miss the countryside.


Do you see yourself living here on a permanent basis or returning to your country?

I’m here to stay!

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky and City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud; photo credits: 1, 2, 5 & 7 Zachariah Messaoud; 3 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 4 Tara Murray & 6 Lois Stavsky


Magda Love

During the past few weeks, Argentinian artist Magdalena Marcenaro aka Magda Love has brought beauty and intrigue to Brooklyn’s Pacific Street with her inventive and infectious murals. We recently met up with Magda and had the opportunity to pose a few questions to her.

When did you first share your vision in a public space?

The first time was earlier this year in Miami’s Arts Wynwood District.

What inspired you to do so?

I was offered a wall, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity.  Growing up in Argentina, I know just how strong the impact of public art can be.

Any early memories of it?

I mostly remember the political slogans that surfaced throughout my native Buenos Aires.

What is your preferred medium for getting up on the streets?

I love wheat pastes. Its ephemeral nature adapts beautifully to the environment.  And it keeps on evolving.

Magda Love

Have you a formal art education?

Not a formal one. But my father is a sculptor, and I grew up among artists.  From an early age, I assisted my father in his studio. He used to tell me, “Magda, you have a special eye, and it will take you far.”  And by age 18, I was working as a fashion designer and photographer and running my own business.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

Just about all of it! When my 9-year-old son isn’t in school, he’s often with me in my studio.

Have you exhibited your work in galleries?

Yes.  I’ve shown my work in Buenos Aires, New York and in Miami. I had a solo exhibition at Gowanus Print Lab here in Brooklyn. And I’ve also participated in group shows at the Scope Foundation, Miguel Paredes Gallery, Peanut Underground, BOOM, The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition and The Urban Folk Art Gallery.

Magda Love

What is your main source of income these days?

Art sales and commissions.

Are there any particular themes or ideas that drive your work?

I’m particularly interested in the connections we forge among one another and how we treat each other.

How has your art evolved through the years?

It has reflected my personal growth, as a woman and as a parent.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I haven’t yet collaborated with anyone, but I’d love to.

Magda Love

Do you work from a sketch or do you just let it flow?

I don’t prepare a sketch – but I do have some images with me to give me a basic idea of where I’m going. But once I begin, my work takes on a life of its own.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

I know the next day.

Any favorite artists – particularly among those whose work you’ve seen on the streets?

Swoon, Rone, Roa, the Fleshbeck Crew, Reka, Lamour Supreme, Faile and Herakut come to mind.

What about cultures that have influenced your aesthetic? Are there any particular ones?

Certainly the Argentinian sensibility and its general openness to art. And from my father I developed a love for traditional German painters.

Magda Love

You moved to NYC 12 years ago. How does the general attitude towards art differ here from back home in Argentina?

Back in Argentina, people are more appreciative of art. There is more emphasis on culture, in general. And there’s more of a collective consciousness that its culture reflects. In Argentina, just about everyone goes to art fairs, not just a select few. But I do love the mix of cultures, along with the art that this mixture produces, here in NYC.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I don’t know if we can change the world, but we can make a difference.

What’s ahead?

I begin working this week with 5th graders at PS 127 on an indoor mural project. This – I hope – will be the first of many collaborations in an educational setting.  And I want to keep working on the streets and travel more in the years ahead. I’d also love to participate in street art festivals and events.

Magda Love

Tomorrow — June 6 from 7:00 P.M.- 8:30 P.M. —  you  can meet Magda, see her new works and view her mural room at Brooklyn’s NU Hotel, as she celebrates the unveiling of her murals commissioned by the Pacific Street Association.

7:00 P.M  Meet-up in lounge of Nu Hotel

7:30 P.M. Walking tour of murals

8:30 P.M. Q&A and NU Hotel mural tour with Magdalena

R.S.V.P. to

Photos by Lois Stavsky