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Big-name graffiti painter tags up beer garden site

The Brooklyn Paper
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A subway vandal-turned-acclaimed graffiti artist has transformed a construction site into a canvas of spray paint — and neighbors in the South Slope are giving it mixed reviews.

On Friday, Mike “Mr. Kaves” McLeer — a Bay Ridge-based graffiti bomber — morphed a drab 90-foot wall into a vibrant mural with a “Honeymooners”–themed (sort of) on Seventh Avenue and 19th Street.

The temporary mural — which will stand for only couple months until a beer garden opens there this fall — combines some images from the Brooklyn-set 1950s sitcom with a gritty hip-hop-flare.

“It’s the purest form of art,” said the sunglasses-and-fedora sporting Kaves, before shaking a can of red spray paint. “And it still has an outlaw soul.”

Neighbors didn’t mind that lawless look — and even stopped to snap a few cellphone photos — calling it a skillful throwback to old school Brooklyn.

“People remember when graffiti messed up this neighborhood — but this isn’t just scribbles; it’s real talent,” said Joe Guerrieri, who owns Joe’s Auto Glass across the street.

Other folks on the block — where a sleek condo sits around the corner from MS 88, just south of the Prospect Expressway — worried the area’s new centerpiece might inspire less-skilled wannabe taggers.

“It’s a well-done piece — but real estate developers might see it another way,” said passerby Alexander Trimpe.

Even so, owners of the Greenwood Beer Garden — a 3,000-square-foot venue scheduled to open this fall — weren’t bothered when they gave Kaves permission to paint it this summer.

Nor was Justin Wolf of TriBeCa’s Hionas Gallery, which showcased Kaves’s work this month. “His art is very mature, distinct and confident,” said Wolf, who lives in the neighborhood. “He is a master at his trade.”

Love it or hate it, Kaves — who go got his start as a 12-year-old tagging trains and was featured in Juxtapoz Magazine in June — isn’t concerned with the critics, whether they’re big-name art writers or just neighbors around the corner.

“There will always be naysayers,” he said, without taking his eyes off the mural. “But, you know, they said the same thing about Cubism.”

Reader poll

Do you think graffiti is art?

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Turk 182 says:
Juxtapose Magazine? It’s Juxtapoz Magazine, you marons.
Aug. 16, 2011, 1:33 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
Graffiti is devil's art.
Aug. 16, 2011, 7:33 am
André Breton says:
I still don't like Cubism.
Aug. 16, 2011, 8:26 am
Daver from Clinton Hill says:
I don't know art, but I know what I like. . .
Aug. 16, 2011, 8:38 am
J from Bay Ridge says:
Happy to see Bay Ridge business owners opening their eyes to this kind of grafitti as an art form. In this case, it brightens up the neighborhood and brings another dimension to Brooklyn.
Aug. 16, 2011, 9:43 am
jane from greenwood heights says:
@J from Bay Ridge--since when does "next to the Prospect Expressway" mean Bay Ridge?

Bay Ridge would be greatly improved by a beer garden, though. hmmm...
Aug. 16, 2011, 9:51 am
Taylor from Flatbush says:
I've studied art my entire life, and Graffiti definitely holds its own against tradition styles. Besides, you get a lot less pompous jerks among street artists. - Great article
Aug. 18, 2011, 9:45 am
Tro Severe from Brooklyn, Bay Ridge says:
Me & Kaves Grew Up Together Bombing The Trains And Walls... What He Is Doing Now Is Pure Art... He Has A Old Hip Hop Soul.. You Can Hear It In His Music Along With His Body work He Does Now.. & A Few paintings.. Im Gald He Is Still True To The Culture......
Aug. 20, 2011, 10:50 am
TM from Bay Ridge says:
“There will always be naysayers,” he said, without taking his eyes off the mural. “But, you know, they said the same thing about Cubism.”

Yeah, but you ain't no cubist and in your case the naysayers are right.

Those scribblings look like they were done by a 12 year old. Get a real job!
Aug. 21, 2011, 2:15 pm
Madcow from Williamsburg says:
For all the wanna be Brooklynites FYI this is not Manhattan! You moved here for a reason!! Presuming the cultural diversity along with its history! Graffiti might not be Art to some of you that are new to this area but for someone that lives and breathes Brooklyn its part of our history and although I would never want to go back to the days of the 1980's when graffiti was not controlled, I see nothing wrong with this type of ART in a controlled and organized setting! Brooklyn is now considered the MECCA but to me it always was and always will be as long as we remain open minded! Lastly this is what happens when we become overly gentrified, we have discussions about everything and nothing!
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:06 pm
Anon from Nearby says:
Don't worry, when the beer garden opens up we will have a lot more of this graffiti coming to a wall NEAR YOU!
April 30, 2012, 7:24 pm
yuli from dfsf says:
Sept. 8, 2015, 8:27 am

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