Top > Miss True Middle > The Bricks Above > Black Lives Matter...!
In the late 70's I was involved in the Syracuse Mural Movement. Most of my first efforts were in Community Programs. I Helped the Federally funded Y.C.S. Youth Mural Project, centered at the Spanish Action League to train their young crew.At the time I was working with the Down Town Underground Artists and Craftsmen's Collective which was located at the Syracuse Mall in Down Town Syracuse. My small gallery featured Linoleum Prints and Hand Carved Walking Sticks.
Earlier in the 70's I was a member of the Studio Museum 7 at age 18. I began as a scholarship student in the print making workshop headed by ( Sculptor, Muralist, Printmaker ) Valerie J. Maynard. Later I was given a Residency which included a Studio and 24/7 access. I worked there every day across from Painter Leroy Clarke who was the Studio director. He saw my work in one the 1199 Gallery's ( NYC ) Family Artists Exhibitions for members of the 1199 Union. My Father was in the Union.
...how do you relate to your Sentence? 2011
At the time I had a full scholarship at the Whitney Museum's Art Resources Center on Cherry Street on the Lower East Side, NY. I had a Loft Building Studio and all the Oil Paint and Canvas I needed. But I didn't have a Mentor. Mr Clarke who is now a National Icon of Trinidad and Tobago Bay said that I need to come up to Harlem. My Grand Mother lived 4 Blocks away from 125th St and Fifth Ave where the Flag Ship Studio museum first began. The first African American Museum in the Country. I was there for almost 2 years before leaving for Syracuse University.
The Ladder 2012
...I continued my Multi Genre Studio work once I got settled in Syracuse. After working in the Syracuse Mural Movement I began to see that I could make a living at it as an entrepreneur. I got a string of jobs doing store front signs. One hung for 26 Years over the Lois Lounge on State Street across from the Bricks >( the hood ). I believe I painted more murals than most of the others combined because I got an in kind work Project with Kennedy SquareApartments that used to be located on E. Fayette Street.They gave me a Studio which was a Rec Room that covered half a floor. I could use it 24/7 and I would paint Murals on the stair wells. With the Studio, I was given an open account for $25 per gallon Dutch Standard Exterior Paint.
...I PAINTED OVER 60 MURALS ON THE WALLS AND BECAUSE I WAS ON THE SCENE EVERY DAY THERE WAS NO GRAFFITTI. WHEN NEW MANAGEMENT TOOK OVER THEY PAINTED THEM OVER
... I had so much paint that that is how I began to get store front jobs...I did everything on a ladder with no permit.I ended up renting a 5 bedroom house for a Studio on E Colvin Street. I wasn't thinking to be stationary in the area at the time and I regrettably passed on buying the house for about $7,000. Most of my jobs were right in the area, one was just up the street. As I would be doing one job, someone would ask me to come see them when I finished. My last job before leaving for the capital District and a Sculpture Fellowship was with Syracuse Housing . My highest paid local mural which paid me $1200 ( heavily discounted ) for 4-5 days work. A 40 ft Mural. Sounds like a lot for the money, but you do work like that for the opportunity to get seen by News outlets.
This time I did the Mural, got paid and then the community ( one person ) objected to the Street Imagery which was just on the verge of the Hip Hop Explosion at the time. It was a Black Church Community. They thought it was too Street and there wasn't much discussion that included me. A Local Down Town Alternative Paper picked up the Story as a mural Controversy. The whole thing never really bothered me much at the time because I was grounded in my work...my business was on point and I never wavered in what my business was. The community though I also should have included them in the project, but that was not my arrangement with Syracuse Housing. I contracted to do a Mural...the first day I greeted people and just did preliminary work. After that first day it was about doing what I was contracted to do and getting paid. If I were doing a community project it would have been set up differently. At the time I had been teaching for 10 years as an Independent Educator.
...so I had the chance ( demand ) to paint over the Protested Mural for which I planned a Martin Luther King / Malcolm X Mural. That went over with the opposition but they wanted to bring another artist in to do help and split the second $1200 check. After seeing my Expressive style they doubted that I would come through even though I gave them a 4 page plan with sketches and words. I refused because they approached the other Artist first and then I agreed to pay him $250 to help with primary layout...he wanted 50/50 and the Management agreed so it was either cover the wall and leave it white or we do this together. I was offended so I moved on and the Mural never got painted there at all. When I started my Residency later in 1985 ( Sculpture Fellowship ) in Schenectady, NY some months later, I did a smaller version of MLK with a quote from one of his fiery speeches "Say I was a Drummer For JUSTICE"...!