Street heARTS: Valentines & Confessions
With roots in the graffiti scene that dominated New York City in the 1970s and 80s, “street art” is a genre with a broad, vibrant spectrum of mediums — wheatpaste, stickers, stencils, paint, murals — encompassing elements and parallels of formally recognized genres of art, including surrealism, abstract expressionism, pop art, even romanticism, making street art relatable to a wide audience.
“Street heARTS: Valentines & Confessions” explores and celebrates the wide range of emotions evoked by Valentine’s Day — joy, obligation, love, anger, loneliness, elation, passion, rejection — as interpreted by street artists who started their careers in New York City, many of whom the curator affectionately calls #heartists. Street art is the ideal medium to capture a celebration of these emotions — good, bad, and ugly — because it is a diverse and universal genre, just like the symbol recognized as a heart.
While Valentine’s Day is often derided as merely a greeting card holiday, “Street heARTS: Valentines & Confessions” aims to shift this perception. As a counterpoint to the romanticized, and commercialized, notion of Valentine’s Day, the artists were asked explore the concept of Confessions — unrequited love, missed opportunities, lust, self doubt — and depict the deeper, perhaps darker, side of their their Valentines, which vividly depict the broad spectrum of emotions evoked by the holiday.
It may seem contradictory to explore these private emotions with the public genre of street art, but street art is already very personal — the artists’ emotions are communicated in every piece they put up. These street artists display their “heart on the street” regularly, like a greeting card, but “Street heARTS: Valentines & Confessions” is an unique opportunity to see what they confess, feel their passion for all art in the street, and catch a glimpse into one person’s perplexing love of the “reddest day of the year”.
- Rachael N. Clark
About the Artists
Born in Ilo-Ilo City, Philippines, AJ Lavilla was introduced to art at the age of eleven when he first used an airbrush. AJ, who moved to New York with his family when he was 13, is a self taught visual artist. He has learned his trade by observing, reading and studying the works of his favorite artists including Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mr. Brainwash, Kaws and Murakami.
After resigning from his job in the medical field to focus on his art, AJ was evicted from his apartment in Queens, New York. This experience was "one of the major obstacles" in his life and career, but he also sees this experience as the turning point of his life; an experience that helped elevate his spirit and work to a whole new level.
AJ’s work can be identified by its vivid colors encompassing a nostalgic feeling through the incorporation of vintage cartoon characters from comic books, luxury brands and pop culture. He describes his work as "a mix of organized chaos that contains elegance through bold colors." He hopes "to inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams, be passionate with what they do” and he wants the audience viewing his work to take away the same message from his art. AJ is grateful to have been able to spread this message at the World Trade Center, and around the world.
Hektad is a New York City graffiti pioneer. In 1982, at the age of 12, the Bronx, New York, native set out to compete with veteran bombers such as Mitch 77 and Chris 217. After an intense 12 year campaign on New York’s street and transit system, Hektad took a well-deserved break to focus on his family.
In 2013, he returned to art with a vengeance. Jumping into what many consider a cluttered and undefined street art scene, Hektad clearly took the lead with his whimsical “Love Drunk” hearts and humorous anecdotes. Currently, Hek is experimenting with many new mediums tinged with traditional graffiti. The collection of pieces in his first major solo show held in August 2018 demonstrated that Hektad is well on his way to securing a permanent spot in the annals of New York street art history, and he has not stopped. He was honored to paint a large scale mural at the World Trade Center as part of a project covered by the New York Times, and actively puts up work in the streets of New York and commissioned works for collectors.
Jason is an award-winning artist, designer, and creative director who began his professional career working in the Creative Department of MAC Cosmetics. Six years later, Jason set out to start spreading his own message into the world. Jason’s work is known for its bright colors and rich blacks, and regularly contains messages of love and positivity, because he believes that kindness is the key to success.
His work has received several awards, including two CLIO Fashion & Beauty Bronze medals, and has been featured in numerous publications and blogs, as well as cable television. In 2018, Jason was named by BUMBLE as one of the 100 Most Inspiring New Yorkers, and his upbeat, colorful creations have found partnership with a range of brands like Coach, Heineken, XBOX, and Maybelline.
Jason’s brightly colored designs and positive words reflect his zeal for life, his quest for joy and his love of LOVE. Currently, Jason is working towards developing a 3D version of one of his favorite motifs ... the heart.
LOVEMKM is a Brooklyn, New York, based artist. She describes herself as a process artist, meaning the execution of what she makes is as significant, if not more important, than the finished piece. She has a very joyous, loving, creative energy, and even when she’s feeling sad and dark, bright vibrant colors, strokes and textures manage to appear on her canvas. Love is her super power, and her light work is her gift to humanity.
She infuses her art with universal good vibes she summons through meditations from her crown chakra to her hands to the pieces she creates. She explores her creativity through multiple mediums, including printmaking, street art, painting, textile and digital designs, all of which come together under the “LOVEMKM” brand.
LOVEMKM is a lover, a dreamer, a woman, a beauty, an icon. Her star seed mission is to spread love vibrations through her fine art, street art, and fashion, and the pieces she makes activate positive feelings and bring joy to everyone who view them. About LOVEMKM, a gallery curator said “ [she] brings a pink energy and light to everything she makes,” which the artist considers a grand compliment. Pink light is a universal loving energy, and she is honored to capture it in her work and share it with the world.
Renda Writer is a man who believes in following his passions. Born in New York, and based in Miami, Florida, he draws influence from all of his life experiences and soaks up all that life has to offer every new day. As an artist, Renda Writer stands firmly behind the central idea expressed in his artist statement— “My goal as an artist is to make my handwriting into visual art and to shed light on the general idea that handwriting can be seen as art, reminding viewers that the art is in what the words say, how they look, and how they’re written.”
Renda first started creating visual art in 2010, after several years as a poet. He started by creating the “Handwritten” brand, which eventually blossomed into a virtual empire of “Handwritten” products. With his art, Renda likes to emphasize, and gravitates toward, concepts and themes of brevity, nature, inspiration, the struggle, the hustle, affirmations, and the concept of “She” as a pronoun, all of which will never get old.
Whether it’s art, poetry, or business, Renda is always working on a new project and always acutely tuned in to manifesting the outcomes and results that he desires. With an intimate understanding of The Law of Attraction, Renda enjoys every new day of navigating through the universe as a creator and as a grateful being. He enjoys collaborating with other motivated individuals through art and poetry collaborations, as well as through business partnerships.
Savior Elmundo is a Renaissance man; an accomplished dancer, choreographer, artist, and filmmaker who is driven by his passion for creative expression. Born in 1973, in Harlem, New York, Savior had the privilege of coming up in the epicenter of the emergence of hip-hop while catching the tail end of an epic art scene in New York City. The convergence of these two worlds opened him to the possibilities of the unresolved passions within him.
As a young, talented, self-taught dancer, he appeared in commercials and with well-known artists in music videos and on stage around the world. He is also a filmmaker who has successfully completed five short films that were featured in several film festivals. Savior picked up a brush to express his feelings after the loss of a close family member and has continuously shown in art shows in Los Angeles, California, and New York, New York since 2008.
The frenetic layered style he has developed comes from the wealth of inspiration he takes from the streets. Layers of paint, images, records, 3-D letters and other mixed media are reminiscent of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the years when Savior was coming up as an artist. His artistic style has evolved over the past eight years to expose the complexities of life, culture, and his personal experiences. His evocative collage pieces reveal a moment in time that is nostalgic and powerful. Savior is honored to have been commissioned to do several installation pieces at the World Trade Center.
Zero Productivity who also goes by the name "ZROPRO" is a Brooklyn, New York, based artist whose work focuses on graphic design, illustration, murals, photography and digital art.
His work has appeared in exhibitions and events at notable locations such as the Brooklyn Museum Shop, The High Line, The Museum of Modern Art Design Store, GaleriaF, XBOX One, The L.I.S.A. Project NYC and myplasticheart, in New York, New York.
He also represents the company, Boundless Brooklyn as a featured artist at company events and live demonstrations. ZROPRO is best known for his character “PJ the Pigeon”. PJ is an anthropomorphized cartoon pigeon representing the everyday person living in the big city. PJ is young at heart and loves getting into shenanigans, while saying things most New Yorkers think.