So, it’s the first week of May 2015 and I have been invited to paint with the community on May 10th at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The theme of the show is Street art inside. The “Streets Inside” is a show honoring street muralist of Phoenix and the museum gave them free rein to create murals from top to bottomcove3ring the inside of SMOCA.

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My background with street art:

I grew up surrounded by graffiti/street art in Los Angeles- 20 years ago I was in a graff crew based in South Los Angeles. It was during that time in my life that I was painting, piecing, and creating art with my peers. They gave me the confidence I couldn’t find on my own in the art community. But it was conflicting – Vandalism OR ART EXPRESSION?

My father had separated from my mother when I was young and then was imprisoned long term. My mother was always talking to me about being a good kid. Well, one of those nights when I snuck out of the house at midnight to go paint with my crew.. I thought I was sooo smart, I wore my pajamas under my clothes and thought I’d come home after a night of painting in the street and no one would even notice. Well, the entire night I was worried and looking over my shoulder thinking we would get picked up by the cops… but when I got home it was worse… My mom caught me!!

She was calm with me but very firm and said, “ Mel, I don’t want to argue with you, but do you want to pay the city? Or have the city pay you? Hearing this from my mom… It made me stop and think, and feel valued!

Now, 18 years later, as an adult, witnessing the closing or removal of the arts from schools and seeing so many prisons being built. I feel a responsibility to encourage the youth to value their talent, their time, their responsibility to themselves & respect for others.


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