This graffiti artist left his mark on the right wall, and people are loving it.
Once just a itinerant graffitist tagging walls with positive messages, the artist known as “The Real Mr. Love” impressed one building owner so much he got a commission to paint a mural on a wall he had illegally tagged.
“People love this mural,” said Aldo Alleva Jr., who owns the Avenue U building housing his wife Nelly’s Unisex Beauty Center between Lake Street and McDonald Avenue. “The people who come in my wife’s store, her customers, people who walk by, they’re taking pictures all the time. It’s actually a piece of artwork, all done with spray-paint and spraycans.”
The artist, who has tagged messages like “Love is Patient, Love is Kind” and “Love Knows No Limits” all around Southern Brooklyn over the past year, tagged “Love Heals” on the Allevas’ wall earlier this year.
This paper had been following the so-called “love vandal” since last summer, and wrote about Alleva’s reaction.
“What can I say, it’s a positive thing,” Alleva said at the time. “If I got the guy back here, I would give him the whole wall.”
After reading that in the paper, Mr. Love decided to take Alleva up on the offer.
“He reached out to me initially. He saw what I said in the article, that I gave an open invitation to paint the wall, because his message was positive,” Aldo said. “Before the mural, he tagged the ‘Love Heals’, and we liked it. Before that, the past 15, 20 years, as long as I’ve been here, it was just scribbles. Just nothing.”
The mural features three panels, including a recreation of a Van Gogh self-portrait, a riff on the Beatles’ Abbey Road Cover with Keith Haring-like figures on the crosswalk, and a strange female figure with the face of a clock wearing a tank-top bearing a version of The Real Mr. Love’s signature: “LOVE” with peace-sign “O,” a heart for the “V,” and a stylized “E.”
“I really like it. It spread such a good message, especially to kids,” said Nelly Alleva, who runs the salon. “It reminds them to take care when crossing the streets. And it spreads the good message of love.”
Folks around the neighborhood are feeling the love for the public artwork.
“I think it’s really cool. I saw it being painted, the artist has a lot of skill,” said Alan Miller, a Gravesend resident. “It really stands out, and makes the whole block stand out.”
Miller agrees the mural is definitely a step above the graffiti usually scrawled on neighborhood walls.
“It’s something nicer to look at than the random graffiti you usually see. It has a purpose,” he said. “It’s not just somebody tagging their name. It’s a great work of art.”
The Allevas say everyone’s asking about it.
“Everyone always asks about it. Customers, neighbors, the owners of buildings around the neighborhood. They take pictures of it, ask who did it,” Nelly said. “We’ve owned this building for ten years, and the graffiti has always been a problem, but not anymore.”
Wondering how much your own The Real Mr. Love mural would run you? Alleva is telling.
“That’s between him and I,” Aldo said. “I know he’s doing other artwork now, making a name for himself, and you could put a value on it, but it’s worth a lot more. Anyway, it’s on a wall and you can’t move it.”