Colón: A lot of people
always use the excuse that their neighborhoods
were bad, and that’s the reason
why they couldn’t do what they wanted to do. I want to show them
that it doesn’t matter where you come from. It’s all about your drive. ♪♪ ♪♪ My name is Rafael Colón, and I am a skateboard
and violin artist. ♪♪ ♪♪ I encountered art
through comic books. In the Marine Corps,
I used to doodle, but it wasn’t anything serious. It was only a few years ago when my daughter actually
decided that she wanted to match a skateboard to a sneaker. And that’s when I started
to research how to do art. And something happened. I was just hooked. And I started creating art. We went to a skateboard shop
in the East Village. And the owner
happened to be there. We walked right up to him, and I explained to him
what I wanted to do. And he just
hands me a skateboard. And he goes, “Here, just do
what you want to do, but bring it back
so I could see what you did.” And when I created
this Frankenstein creature on the skateboard, my daughter
decided that she wanted me to put it up in the shop, as opposed to having it
for herself. And so, when I brought it
into the shop, he loved it. He put it up on the wall. And then three weeks later,
the skateboard sold. I knew I had something. And so that’s when
I started researching and figuring out
how can I get better because I didn’t go
to any formal school for art. I had to learn the style of
whatever master I was painting. I immersed myself
in the artists. And because I learned
their style, I was able to appropriate it, and I put it on a skateboard. I began with the basic guys. Michelangelo, Raphael.
Renaissance, right? For me, it’s not
appropriating their art. It’s displaying their art. Because whenever I do a master,
I put their name first. Mine is second. I’m just the guy that put this
master on the skateboard. You don’t want to take away from that master. You want to enhance him
or her through your art. That’s why I like to appropriate
these styles of these masters that hardly anybody knows — like, oh, you don’t know
Artemisia Gentileschi? Look at this, on a violin. And then they’re like,
“Who’s that?” Oh, look her up. The interest grows now on that particular artist, and that’s what I like doing — I like to just give curiosity. Art has opened my eyes to a whole demographic
of human beings that I never would
have come across. ♪♪ My name is Lenore Grossman. I am an art consultant. Most of my work lately
has been with Rafael Colon and I have tried to places work where I think it would be
most beneficial for him. I first met Rafael about
five and a half years ago. I needed a trainer
because I had an illness that required that I work out. And so who walked into my life
but Rafael. He started to do Asian art. And I said there’s only
one place he’s got to be, and that’s at the Asia Society. When he started doing
the violins, I decided that the best place
he had to be was at the Metropolitan Opera. And then I decided:
I have to find him a gallery that would be out of the box. So I thought about Ron Feldman because Ron Feldman
discovered Andy Warhol. He let me talk to him, and we actually talked for
about three hours, and he’s going to put Rafael
in his show next summer of up-and-coming artists. I do all this for Rafael because basically
he really saved me. He gave me more life, and I wanted to give him life. I really hope
that he’ll be recognized. I hope that people will see
how talented he is and that he will always
be satisfied with being an artist. ♪♪ ♪♪ One of the more
interesting parts of who you are —
you make changes. You stay with the wood. Right, right, right. But you make changes,
and you’re not afraid of change. You have this encyclopedic
mind for art that is like
my own personal Wikipedia. He thought of himself
as a lover of art, but I thought of him
as an artist — and I think that’s the way
he feels about himself now. Now, yeah.
Back then I didn’t. She saw something
that I didn’t see. These are just
panels of art, and it’s been around
for centuries. So I’m just — just exposing it
a little bit more to people who might relate
to the skateboard more than
to a big, giant canvas that may not even fit
in your apartment. But a skateboard can. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

South Bronx artist Rafael Colón recreates famous artwork on skateboards, violins | Box Burners
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