Staten Island

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The wildly imaginative and splendidly talented Michael Alan aka Michael Alan Alien is busily planning an artistic tribute to his mom, Raindrop, in his childhood Staten Island home this coming Saturday, June 17th.  What follows is a brief interview with him about it:

What spurred you to plan this tribute to your mom?

All that my mom has done — and continues to do — for me.  She saved me from the dark as I was growing up, and she inspired me to be the artist I am today. My mom is living art.

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Can you tell us something about the role your mom played in your artistic career?

My mom was the first performer in my Living Installation projects. She helped me get started by modeling for my drawings at this very home and by modeling — clothed — at the early stages of Drawathon.  She has given so much to help me forge my career.

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What can visitors to her home — your childhood home — in Staten Island next Saturday expect to experience?

There will be a seven hour tribute — from 5pm to 12am — for my mom with music, models, comedy and a BBQ. It will be on her property, and she will be performing with her husband, Michael, and the cast of the Living Installation. Part of the house will be set up as an installation of my mom’s past memories.  Jadda Cat, Living Installation’s new leader, will perform in a kids’ pool and do face-painting for kids. And there will be a chance for everyone to make art.

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And what about your art? Will any of it be shown at this event? 

Yes, over 60 of my works will be on display, along with photos of my mom and her religious prophesies.

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How can folks attend the event? 

Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased here.  The address will be provided to ticket holders. It is just a 10-minute bus ride from downtown Manhattan and the perfect retreat!

Editor’s note: For an intimate look into the artist, check out the following video produced by Alan Ket.

Photos provided by Michael Alan; interview by Lois Stavsky

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Passionately engaged in promoting the positive values of the cultures of street art, graffiti and hip-hop, the Staten Island-based NYC Arts Cypher is a dynamic ever-evolving venture. For the past few months a host of  local, national and international artists have been busily at work preparing for Cypher Fest, NYC Arts Cypher‘s first Annual Street Art Festival. While visiting I had the opportunity to speak to its founder and president, Charlie Balducci aka Charlie B.

When was NYC Arts Cypher born?

It was founded in 2004, and it became an official 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2007.

What spurred you to create it?

It was a way for me to stay involved in all aspects of the arts and entertainment and –- at the same time — engage the community.  The realization of it was a dream come true. Of the five boroughs, ours had been the least recognized.

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How would you describe its mission?

Its mission is to promote positive values through programs and events related to urban art. NYC Arts Cypher also serves as a networking tool for artists in all five boroughs. And with its open-door policy, it introduces many of our local kids to a range of skills from painting and dancing to acting and producing videos.

What are some of the concerns that  NYC Arts Cypher has addressed?

When Amanda Cummings, a local teen, threw herself in front of a bus in 2013, we took on the issue of bullying.  And, tragically, the issue of bullying was in the news once again when 13-year-old Staten Island resident Danny Fitzpatrick took his life leaving behind a note that expressed his pain as a victim of bullying. Among other issues we address are: vandalism, drug abuse and conflict-resolution.

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Does any particular highlight stand out?

In 2010, we were awarded “best documentary short” at the Staten Island Film Festival for our documentary, M.U.R.A.L

Can you tell us something about it?

Yes. It presents graffiti as an art form – rather than an act of vandalism. It features interviews with a range of people from the youth who are active in our programs to law enforcement officials to such accomplished artists as the members of Tats Cru and Meres of 5Pointz fame.

What are some of the challenges you encounter in overseeing such a multi-faceted space?

Working on sustaining it is the principal challenge, as we continue to expand and offer more programs and networking opportunities.

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It seems like a monumental task! How do you do it?

We have support from sponsors like SIBOR, Wheel Concepts and Williams Eye Works. But nothing beats the heart of a volunteer — like Cynthia Valle and Tony Spinelli.

What’s ahead for NYC Arts Cypher?

We are utilizing all our resources to beautify not only our block, but — also — neighboring blocks, as artists from across the globe are now painting alongside local artists. We will continue to engage schools in a range of programs promoting positive values –particularly the Don’t Be a Bully initiative that combats bullying with creativity and Pillz Killz that tackles head on the epidemic of drug abuse plaguing our community. We will also be hosting  a pop-up shop and café. And next Sunday, September 10th we will be presenting Cypher Fest, our first Annual Art Festival.

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Images

1  Mr. Prvrt & A Visual Bliss with Jorit Agoch at work on the right

2  L7 Matrix

3 & 4 Sipros

5  La Femme Cheri

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 3 Tara Murray; interview with Charlie B 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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The Centrefuge Public Art Project made its way to Staten Island this past spring, bringing color and intrigue to Wave Street off Bay, a short walk from the ferry. Among the works are these:

Mr. Prvrt and Col Wallnuts

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ScrambledEggsit

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Danielle Mastrion

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Denton Burrows

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ChrisRWK and Kwue Molly

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And great news — especially for us Manhattanites — is that the Centrefuge Public Art Project‘s 17th cycle of murals is currently underway on the trailer at First Street and First Avenue.

First photo is of image by Erin Kelli

Photos: 1, 3-6 Lois Stavsky; 2 Tara Murray

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