A blank canvas is generally white.
Rarely is it black. Or made of asphalt.
Artist Wane One painted his first train in New York City as a graffiti writer in 1983.
Thirty-five years later, he painted his first street. Well, not an entire street, just a 1,650-foot-square section of Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. Why? ArtsWestchester asked him to, to mark its 20th anniversary in a former bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Ave.
He calls his artwork in front of ArtsWestchester’s Arts Exchange headquarters “Brighter Colors Better Life.” Its inspiration is the arts organization’s enduring presence in the county.
“It’s a deconstructed abstract piece,” Wane One says as he takes a break from painting on a warm May day. “All the shapes are breaking away. The color really tells the story in a 2-D form. The color, the energy, the balance.” All of it comes together to pay tribute to the energy of the city’s downtown.
“The shifting colors are a nod to the transformative powers of the arts as embodied by ArtsWestchester.”
The artist entered the world in West London as Wayne Peterkin. (Wane One was his signature on his train and street graffiti.) He came with his family to the Bronx in 1978. It was there that the graffiti-covered elevated trains caught his eye with their colors and distinctive lettering. He would later move from subway cars to canvas and clothing. He designed logos for hip-hop groups and later for Sean John menswear. He continues to collaborate with other fashion brands such as Nike and Reebok.
His newest artwork is a collaboration with Arts Westchester, the city of White Plains, the White Plains Business Improvement District and Kite Realty’s City Center.
ArtsWestchester CEO Janet T. Langsam says “this old bank building” is filled up with artists. “Sponsoring jazz concerts and art exhibits helps bring creativity down to the streets of White Plains,” she adds. “This mural is the icing on the cake.”
So how do you go about painting a street?
“We started off with an asphalt base which seals the asphalt,” Wane One says. “And then we started doing the mural on top of that. In the end, we’ll do a UV clearcoat on top to protect it. It’s gonna enhance the whole street itself.”
ArtsWestchester sees it as a veritable welcome mat to the front door of its nine-story building that houses a gallery and studios.
Barricades were set up to keep traffic away as Wane One and his workers created the mural. The one thing the barricades didn’t keep away were onlookers.
“It’s great working outdoors because you get to interact with all the locals going by. They’re like, so to speak, your art critics. You really get to know the honest feeling of how they feel about the mural,” he says, as the corners of his eyes crinkle and a wry smile appears.
For more, visit artswestchester.org.