All posts tagged: Alex Bershaw

Being “Street” and Supporting Independent Women

Being “Street” and Supporting Independent Women

The pressure of "live" performance sometime can stress a girl out (Marhalicious) (photo Anthony J. Causi)

The pressure of “live” performance sometimes can stress a girl out (Marthalicia and helper) (photo Anthony J. Causi)

What makes you “street”? What makes you “hard”?

A lot of street art and graff culture glorifies a kind of toughness that is born of the streets; Yeah Brooklyn We Go Hard!  That’s right, we’re down with that. From Rock to Rap to Tech to Funk to hoods to spikes to cans to fire-tags, the right to be rebellious and wreck sh*t feels like a birthright in Brooklyn.

We’re also down with giving back, giving support, sharing your talent. We met a cool street artist/artist named Marthalicia Matarrita recently and she reminded us that these gifts can be shared in a positive way too. She’s a street artist, a graff artist, a fine artist. From her blog you’ll find out she is also “mother, sister, daughter, entrepreneur, community advocate, and former National Guard”. She grew up in Harlem and went to La Guardia High School of Music and Arts in lower Manhattan.

She also spent time homeless and living in shelters.  Okay, how “street” do you want it?

These days Marthalicia is doing a lot of live painting with Art Battles, a New York based creation of artist/event thrower/entrepreneur Sean Bono, who produces live art events and competitions to expose emerging artists to the masses.  Marthalicia is also performing live art painting tonight in Brooklyn – at Cafe Europa as a celebration of independent women, something she teaches you about in the most gentle way.

Brooklyn Street Art: What kind of art you do?
Marthalicia Matarrita:
I paint on canvas with acrylics.  I unify the concept of traditional figurative subject matter and those of the comic book/urban graff illustrations (graffiti) to create a conversation about contemporary issues that affect all of us; environmentalism, homelessness, the military, etc.

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you done work on the street?
Marthalicia Matarrita:
I used to create images on the street on the Upper West Side and I have a piece currently that I did this spring on the rooftop for a fundraiser at The New School of Design in the Lower East Side.  It was such a thrill to know that I was part of something so cool and now I’m a “Rooftop Legend”.  So many great artists had the opportunity to BLESS those walls with so much creativity and it humbled me to look at their art.

Marthalicia's piece for the rooftop (courtesy the artist)

Marthalicia’s piece on the roof of The New School of Design at Parsons (photo courtesy the artist)

Brooklyn Street Art: What has it been like working the Art Battles events and doing live painting with them?

Marthalicia Matarrita: I have been painting live since the spring of 2006. And since then my art has developed well into the theme of live audience and painting in an allotted time. I have been painting at different art functions, shows and events all over New York City and its’ 5 boroughs.

Since early 2008 I have been invited to participate with Art Battles at many art programs.  It’s been an incredible experience working with Art Battles and its team. and what I have learned about painting “live” is that time and environment (the audience and music) has made me a more concentrated artist and more focused  as an artist. Art Battles also recognizes the struggles of the artist and reimburses and also purchased materials.

See Marthalicia in this Art Battles video from this spring (click the little PLAY button in the lower left of navigation bar):

Brooklyn Street Art: “Do you think you have to be “hard” to be “street”?
Marthalicia Matarrita:
The street conditions you, even if you do have a soft heart or one hard like a stone.

Brooklyn Street Art: Some street artists feel like they have to destroy to get respect or credibility.
Marthalicia Matarrita:
Some people say that “most street artist have no siblings so they feel like they need to break stuff to get attention”.  Others don’t have the means of an art education such as studio art. Street artists feel the need to express art just as strongly as a studio artist, but they do it without an easel and canvas.  For them it’s much better to create images of thought or reflections of life in a cheaper way with cans and use THE WALLS as a canvas.

Elements of figurative

“I unify the concept of traditional figurative subject matter and those of the comic book/urban graff illustrations (graffiti) to create a conversation about contemporary issues that effect all of us; environmentalism, homelessness, the military, etc.” Atomic, by Marthalicia (image courtesy the artist)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you speak about the July 10th event and what it means to you.
Marthalicia Matarrita: The whole event is a fundraiser and the proceeds go to help a young child named Chanty, who lives in Cambodia.  Felecia Cruz is the organizer of the program at her bar, Club Europa. I was called one day by Felecia to ask me to participate in her upcoming show July 10th as a live painter.  She described this little girl Chanty, who she met in Cambodia during a recent trip, and she explained how she was determined to help her and her family to send Chanty to school to improve her future.  That touched me to know that a stranger from another country was willing to invest her time and energy to genuinely help a young child in great need of education. It convinced me to join in her program and her mission because I wanted to be a part of something good, something that in the end would show a child hope and help her progress. I was given a similar opportunity when I was a young teenager, and I know how important it was to me.

Proceeds from tonight’s benefit will go to Chanty, who appears in the video below :

Brooklyn Street Art: This show is more than just about Chanty, it is about Women’s empowerment. Can you talk about the importance of having strong women today?

Marthalicia Matarrita: As you see, without strong women, you have disrespectful children, who walk around with their pants half off their ass and girls that think more about sex and sneakers then their future. In history woman struggled to have their voices heard.

It’s very important to have events like these to display not only that we are capable of making great achievements as our male counterparts, but also as individuals.

"Frida of Brooklyn" Marthalicia shot by Alex Bershaw (courtesy the artist)

“Frida of Brooklyn” Marthalicia shot by Alex Bershaw (courtesy the artist)

Brooklyn Street Art: The Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, used her personal experiences, including some that were very painful, in her work. Has she affected you as an artist, and how?

Marthalicia Matarrita: Tremendously. I learned painting with oils and acrylic in high school. Most of my paintings were self-portraits. College was the time where I was exposed to her and her works and how amazed I was when I learned about her history. I felt somewhat connected to her because of her personal struggles; I too had some of my very own. The more I learned from her the more I saw my art footsteps evolving, not to copy her style or her intensions but her communication of her life with her art. I do the same with my art.

My life wasn’t a great one. I struggled here and there with poverty, being in the shelter, both parents were alcoholics,  and my mom suffered a lot and she became schizophrenic.

My art saved me from dwelling on the negative activities in my environment.

Frida learned in her art to communicate her personal life story with Diego (Rivera) and about WAR.  I painted with political themes when I was in the Army National Guard. I was called twice to Iraq and I painted how I felt about being toyed around with…fighting a cause that’s not our own.

Frida showed me that whatever kind of personality you have, art is a tool to show others how similar we all are and how we can help and teach one another.

That’s one of the things I wanted to do with my art in the long run.


“Independent Women”, Chanty’s Final Fundraiser, Friday July 10, 2009


An arsenal of female talent coming together to show Chanty and other young girls around the world that they can be whatever they want.

Performances by:
Eyeris with Radio Rose
Bless Roxwell
Jeanette Berry
Linda Laporte
Dama Nilz
Jasmine Solano
Her Virgins
Diva from CYM

Special Guest:Miz Metro
Music By: DJ ILL P
A short film:”Married Girl” by Alexandra Lopez

Live Art and Displays by Marthalicia

Make-up and Design by Lauren Weakly

Club Europa
98 Meserole Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Marthalicia’s Blog

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