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Volume 1, Tropical Storm: Gowanus

If you haven’t heard yet…

The news about the tropical storm that mysteriously swept through the Gowanus section of Brooklyn in early June, is a story worth telling again and again!

Tropical Storm: Gowanus photo by Vince Maximum

It’s about generosity, cooperation, and incredibly good energy. It’s about a common vision of social justice, youth development, and public art.

Of course, its about kids. Lot’s of them!

Recruited from Brooklyn’s Public High Schools for the Art School Without Walls, Vol. 1

Twenty + art students were recruited from Brooklyn’s High Schools to participate in Ray Smith Studio Presents! The Art School Without Walls, Vol.1 with the help of NYC high school teaching artists, Jill Levine, and Lara Hill, and organized by Crystal Gonzalez, Los Galeristas Student & Youth Outreach Coordinator.

Crystal and her posse have been taking part in a new kind of cre8tive civic action with Los Galeristas Adolescentes.

When Seven Become One

Los Galeristas with Sofia Maldonado and Tom Otterness, The Art School without Walls, Vol. 1 Gowanus, NY 2011

Crystal Gonzalez - Project Outreach Coordinator

Brewing for some time …

Although brewing for some time in the fervid mind of Mista Oh!, tropical storm clouds began to gather in earnest in early April, when the painter Ray Smith, offered up office space at the Ray Smith Studio in the Gowanus Canal section of Brooklyn, as Cre8tive YouTH*ink’s temporary headquarters.

Los Galeristas w/Sofia Maldonado and Ray Smith - The Art School without Walls, Vol. 1 Gowanus, NY June 2011

The Art School Without Walls

It wasn’t long before Ray and Mista Oh! conceived of the Art School Without Walls, a venture designed to side-step traditional art education by reviving the spirit of apprenticeship — directly engaging inner city kids in the creation of public and other significant works of art.

Sofia Maldonado and the Cre8tive YouTH*ink Crew - Day One Art School w/out Walls, Vol. 1

Acclaimed super-muralist Sofia Maldonado, and super-good friend of Los Galeristas, just returning from several public projects and a successful opening at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida, immediately signed on to lead a mural workshop for Vol. 1 of the Art School without Walls.

The Art School without Walls, Vol. 1.

Day Two The Art School w/out Walls, Vol. 1

We secured an 80-foot private wall (avoiding permits & red tape) on 4th Street between Hoyt and Bond streets on a lot being developed by architect Peter Moore and whom Ray Smith had enlisted to the cause.

Top l to r: edwina p, lalita s, jesus s, johnny walker

Things really started to pick up though, when ARTnews Executive Editor, Robin Cembalest got involved, spearheading a kickstarter fundraiser, and ultimately raising $3,000 to finance the project.

The Art School w/out Walls, Vol. 1 - Tropical Storm: Gowanus

The Art School w/out Walls, Vol. 1 - Tropical Storm: Gowanus

Over the course of the three days, and completely on schedule, 20+ young artists assembled at the site working under Sofia’s good-natured direction — delivering such a luscious downpour of tropical color that the sculptor Tom Otterness came out of his own studio (across the street), commissioning the crew to extract an element of the completed mural and have it float over the fence to drop onto his own studio’s front wall. Check out the clip below and watch how the clouds came rolling in!


I’m Beamin’ by Lupe Fiasco from the album ‘Lasers’

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