Zero Productivity

I love when artists bring their talents to NYC public schools, not only beautifying them but also conveying positive messages that encourage dialog. And the best of these projects involve and reflect the members of the immediate community. Prospect Heights-based Jeff Beler has done it again! Following his wonderful transformation of PS 9, he has recently brought his passion and curatorial skills to PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. While there this past Thursday, as several artists were adding finishing touches to a huge wall in PS 321‘s school yard, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Jeff:

This looks great! I’m so glad you guys are bringing your talents to local schools. How did this come to happen? 

PS 321 PTA co-president Lauren Gropp Lowry had seen the STEAM Mural Project I had curated over at PS 9. She, along with other PS 321 parents liked what they saw and wanted to bring a similar project to their children’s school. And they, then, proposed the idea to their school’s principal.

When did this project, No Place for Hate, begin? 

We began talking about it in June, but we didn’t want to start it until the school year began. We wanted the members of the school community involved in every aspect of its planning.

And what about the theme of it? How was that chosen?

There was a general consensus that the emphasis would be on promoting tolerance and kindness and taking a strong stand against bullying. And the students at PS 321 came up with the specific concepts.

How did you decide which artists to engage in seeing No Place for Hate through?

Through the projects I’ve curated in the past — particularly UnderHill Walls and the STEAM Mural Project at PS 9 — I’ve developed  many close relationships with artists. I have a strong sense of which artists I can trust to show up on schedule and which artists work well together. Among the artists who participated in this current project are: Subway Doodle, Justin Winslow, Jaima, Calicho Arevalo, Marco Santini, My Life in Yellow, Majo, Paulie Nassar, Raddington Falls, AJ Lavilla, Zero Productivity and Paolo Tolentino.

And I notice that you have students, parents and various members of the community involved today. You even have a local architect, @krassness, adding details to your buildings!

Yes, many members of the school community and folks who live in the neighborhood  have been involved, lending us their skills, since we began painting.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

I can’t think of any. Everything has gone so smoothly. And we’ve had wonderful sponsors. Among them are: Blick Art Materials, Starbucks Art Program, The Corcoran Group, Tarzian Hardware and Hanson Place Orthodontics.

How have folks responded to No Place for Hate? They seem to love it!

Yes! The response has been great!

Congratulations!

Images:

1. My Life in YellowJustin WinslowJeff Beler and more

2. Majo (pictured standing), Zero Productivity and Jeff Beler (pictured standing)

3. Calicho Arevalo and more

4. Subway Doodle and Paolo Tolintino 

5. Justin Winslow and Zero Productivity

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 City-as-School intern Sage Ironwood and 5 City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago 

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Phetus-mural-art-close-up-glen-cove

A remarkable museum, featuring the artwork of dozens of street artists, muralists, graffiti writers and bombers, is underway in the least likely spot –a 300-year-old historic Glen Cove, Long Island mansion. While visiting this designated city landmark last week, I had the chance to speak to Sean Sullivan aka Layer Cake, who is actively engaged in the transformation of this 9000-square foot site that was once home to one of the five founding families of the city of Glen Cove.

This is remarkable? Whose concept was this?

Joe LaPadula — known among us for his fabulous cutting-edge urban art car projects — knew about this site and saw its potential to serve as a platform to introduce his favorite art form to the public.

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How did you become involved with it?

I did a Ferrari hood for Joe’s project, and we discovered that we share a similar vision. And then I involved Harris Lobel who has done a great job overseeing the Drip Project in Mount Vernon’s Mes Hall.

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This home is the centerpiece of the First City Project – which has also engaged artists in painting in public spaces. What is the goal of this project?

There are many. The First City Project‘s principal goal is introduce the residents of the City of Glen Cove and surrounding communities to the next generation of urban-themed artists.

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When did the transformation of this site begin?

The actual painting began on May 2. I was, in fact, the first artist to paint here.

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There is such a wildly diverse mix of art here. How were you able to engage such a variety of artists?

At first I reached out to those I know and like. And then it was a matter of word of mouth, as artists connected to one another.

Chris-easy-zero-productivity-graffiti-glen-cove

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in seeing this through?

Working with such a varied range of artists with so many different personalities is, in itself, a challenge. But immediate ones that come to mind are: artists not showing up on time; having to stay up far too late and the inevitable politics that comes with it all.

Pase-graffiti-Glen-Cove

What’s ahead for the First City Project?

Live art events, gallery exhibits, more outdoor mural projects that engage the community — particularly the youth — student art classes and more.

It’s very exciting! Good luck with it all! And we look forward to news about upcoming events.

Images:

1. Phetus

2. Such

3. Reaps

4. Sean Sullivan aka Layer Cake

5. Ellis G

6. Chris RWK, Nite Owl, Zero Productivity and Easy

7. Pase

Photos and interview 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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