As you exit the Halsey Street stop on the L train in Brooklyn, you are greeted with a 300 foot wall of murals. Stretching the entire block, this vibrant concrete canvas is known as the Halsey Street Dream Way Collaborative Mural. Completed in late October of last year, the project was spearheaded by Xmental in conjunction with the Brooklyn Arts Council.
The art at Halsey Street is unique for a number of reasons. Guided by Xmental’s mission to educate and mentor at-risk urban youth through using the four pillars of hip hop – graffiti, break dancing, djaying, and mc-ing – Halsey Street celebrates Brooklyn’s distinct creative culture and history.
When Xmental was seeking muralists for the project, the organization looked to its own – interested artists had to be residents of Brooklyn. Fifteen artists, some as young as 17, were chosen from a submission pool of over forty.
Moving from mural to mural, you really sense the depth of talent and artistic diversity only found in Brooklyn. Marthalicia Matarrita, Shiro, Damien Mitchell, Anthony Pugh, and Patty Eljaiek are some of the artists who worked on the project. Imagery is colorful, encouraging, and speaks for the local community.
For the most part, the wall has not been vandalized with reckless graffiti. We were bummed to see that the piece depicting the “Hello My Name is Bushwick” name tag did receive an unfortunate hit though.
The Halsey Street Dream Way Collaborative Mural exemplifies how projects like this work to lay a positive foundation for a younger generation to become active members of their communities. Graff Tours looks forward to similar endeavors in NYC, which unite art and community to stimulate social change.