Big-name graffiti painter tags up beer garden site

Big-name graffiti painter tags up beer garden site
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A subway vandal-turned-acclaimed graffiti artist has transformed a construction site into a canvas of spray paint — and neighbors in the South Slope are giving it mixed reviews.

On Friday, Mike “Mr. Kaves” McLeer — a Bay Ridge-based graffiti bomber — morphed a drab 90-foot wall into a vibrant mural with a “Honeymooners”–themed (sort of) on Seventh Avenue and 19th Street.

The temporary mural — which will stand for only couple months until a beer garden opens there this fall — combines some images from the Brooklyn-set 1950s sitcom with a gritty hip-hop-flare.

“It’s the purest form of art,” said the sunglasses-and-fedora sporting Kaves, before shaking a can of red spray paint. “And it still has an outlaw soul.”

Neighbors didn’t mind that lawless look — and even stopped to snap a few cellphone photos — calling it a skillful throwback to old school Brooklyn.

“People remember when graffiti messed up this neighborhood — but this isn’t just scribbles; it’s real talent,” said Joe Guerrieri, who owns Joe’s Auto Glass across the street.

Other folks on the block — where a sleek condo sits around the corner from MS 88, just south of the Prospect Expressway — worried the area’s new centerpiece might inspire less-skilled wannabe taggers.

“It’s a well-done piece — but real estate developers might see it another way,” said passerby Alexander Trimpe.

Even so, owners of the Greenwood Beer Garden — a 3,000-square-foot venue scheduled to open this fall — weren’t bothered when they gave Kaves permission to paint it this summer.

Nor was Justin Wolf of TriBeCa’s Hionas Gallery, which showcased Kaves’s work this month. “His art is very mature, distinct and confident,” said Wolf, who lives in the neighborhood. “He is a master at his trade.”

Love it or hate it, Kaves — who go got his start as a 12-year-old tagging trains and was featured in Juxtapoz Magazine in June — isn’t concerned with the critics, whether they’re big-name art writers or just neighbors around the corner.

“There will always be naysayers,” he said, without taking his eyes off the mural. “But, you know, they said the same thing about Cubism.”

Graffiti artist Mr. Kaves painted a large-scale mural on the corner of 19th Street and Seventh Avenue where his friend Larry Hyland will be opening a beer garden.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini