Deb Gordon’s guests were Misha Tyutyunik and Nathaniel James, lead and student artist respectively at Groundswell, an organization that pairs professional artists with inner-city youth to help develop their innate talents and create compelling public artworks that are displayed in New York communities.
“I see so many art programs get cut these days. ..people don’t have art, they don’t have music,” said Tyutyunik. “Groundswell is one of those organizations that provide this much needed outlet for these kids and young adults.”
Spotlighted Groundswell’s newest project, a large scale mural on the South-facing wall of 11 Howard, a newly opened hotel located at Howard and Lafayette in SoHo.
The mural titled ‘The Spirit of Soho”, was commissioned by art collector and realtor Aby Rosen, in collaboration with renowned artist Jeff Koons, and is inspired by the vibrant neighborhood it is now a part of.
“What it is, is a silhouette of a metropolitan woman, kind of resembling Carmen Sandiego, and within that silhouette is the history and the nightlife and the food and the culture of Soho – all in different sections…and you basically get the feeling of what SoHo is all about through all these different sections,” said Tyutyunik.
“Soho was an avid art community in the 80’s spawning the likes of Basquiat and such, so we paid homage to him as well.”
Misha and Nathaniel who have both been with Groundswell for about five years, discussed the design process of working on this high profile project, and also the experience of having Jeff Koons as a mentor.
Mr. James, who is also studying civil engineering, has worked on several Groundswell murals, and discussed the impact the program has had on all aspects of his life, including his impending career.
“I definitely don’t plan on stopping, creating murals… I definitely incorporate that creative spirit and the creative lifestyle inside the designs and inside the calculations of whatever I’m going to be making – so, it’s part of me now,” said James.
In addition to the mural at 11 Howard, Groundswell art can be seen in many neighborhoods around the city and each day touches the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.
“If you haven’t already, you can go downtown – you’ll be able to see the mural, but that’s just one of the murals, “ said James. “Groundswell has almost 500…so, you don’t have to go into Manhattan, you probably have 3 or 4 in your own neighborhood…in Brownsville, East New York, Prospect Heights, anywhere.”
–Deb Gordon/Fresh 102.7