Originating as a grant to perform an architectural project of social significance, Rachel Barnard’s restorative justice art program Young New Yorkers has developed into a strong creative force. Allegra La Viola Gallery hosted a benefit silent auction featuring work from urban artists that was curated by street artist LNY.
“We have over 70 emerging street artists who donated work, but also we feature some high end street artists in our range as well,” said Barnard. “We’re not going to get necessarily big dollars at the event, but it’s very heart warming because the event means so much to so many artists who have been arrested for doing graffiti art themselves.”
The benefit ended up raking in nearly $35,000 to fund workshops for high-risk teens, meeting Young New Yorker's goal. This will allow them to help more 16 and 17 year olds - who have been arrested and prosecuted as adults - to foster their creative skills.
LNY reached out to personal ties and used his own aesthetic taste as a street artist while curating the evening which he hoped to represent “an expression of a culture that varies.”
Although the clear stand-out name was Shepard Fairey, now brushed aside as Banksy-madness overwhelms New York, other lesser known pieces of social commentary also shone. While some were cheeky like Crocheted Flying Rat No. 2 by Olek, others such as Jilly Balistic’s modified MTA flyer service alerts were poignant in response to Hurricane Sandy.
The collection presented fathoms of interesting work for a very worthy cause, but the concentration of political work in a small space was a bit dominating and could have used a few more punctuating pieces between the dark context. Nevertheless, the reminder of a bleak sociopolitical climate reinforced the need that drives Young New Yorkers.
Review and photos by Justin McCallum