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  • Writer's pictureErica Stella

Damien Mitchell and The Bearded Lighthouse Keeper

A few weeks ago a wall was completed by an OG to Sold Magazine, Damien Mitchell. Contributor to Issue #3 (Summer '16), of the print editions; Damien gave us his full page "How To" paint a mural in NYC, a step-by-step in jest tutorial. If you haven't added these relics to your street art time capsule, you can only get them HERE, while they last.

As we salute the artist, this is also my attempt to write a biased piece about this latest turnover. Brought to you by our friends from Centre-fuge Public Art Project, this wall is part of a corner of dope pieces at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge covering the Greenpoint Gallery in Brooklyn. Other artists currently on view: Denton Burrows, Ramiro, BelowKey, OuterSource, Resa, and Crisp.

To see the entire process of creating this wall from beginning to end: the phone call, borrowing a yellow rain jacket, the photo/modeling shoot, and watching his face come to life on a city street, it has been special for us both, indeed. My partner in life's positive influence on the street art/graffiti community of NYC has been noted.

Within the last year only, born and raised Brooklyn native Ronnie Parisella, AKA Big Ronnie has been the MC for our "In The Spray Room" podcast episodes here on Sold Magazine. In just its 1st year recording, the podcast hosted over 70 artists, and 5 special event locations. With his hometown & heart-warming sensibility, he and I have welcomed artists from all over the globe to sit down at our dining room table, open up and feel comfortable to speak off the cuff, in a real Brooklyn home. Just another way we bring you inside the world of the NYC street art/graffiti culture.

Back in 2012, Big Ronnie was supportive in my desire to switch careers, and pursue a need to document an art movement I saw happening around me, to passionately participate in and support. My love for the arts has been with me since childhood, but not until a later point in life was I sure my photography was needed, and had purpose. Big Ronnie was not only in favor of me finding my creative side again, but is a subject of my work. As I wanted to meet other photographers and attend events, I realized that people recognized his face.

Damien Mitchell- the ever-evolving artist from Wagga Wagga, Australia asked permission to add Big Ronnie's mug to his portfolio of joyous faces he paints all over the world. While remembering all the favorite murals of his we have photographed and tracked down over the years, we were both ecstatic.

1st being recognized internationally as a stencil artist (A finalist in the 2012 Stencil Art Prize), Damien started working with a spray can at the age of 7, and on the streets by 15, while working in a paint shop in his small hometown. A convenient way to get supplies when needed, employee discount to boot. He left home soon after and began his life as a traveler. As most Australians, traveling suits him, but it also suits the schedule and need for artists. By 18 he was painting mainly stencils in Prague, Czech Republic. A political statement here, a pet dog there, or just a silly joke - he found the acceptance of street art increasing, and he was enjoying the camaraderie with local business owners and residents.

It was in 2011, when Damien first stepped away from stencils and chose to paint freehand. He was invited to participate in and paint at 5Pointz by Meres One during one of his first visits to the US. Since then, he has participated in other local projects such as SpreadArt NYC, JMZ Walls, Yonker's YAW and Welling Court Mural Project, where he first appeared on our podcast this past June.

His consistent residency at The Levee in Williamsburg has also felt like a Brooklyn welcome mat for Damien. Working next door to this watering hole didn't hurt in putting this wall in his portfolio. Many notables were created here, most recently "Anti-Social Media", and "Putin's Mask".

Calling Brooklyn home today, when Damien travels or is around the 5 boroughs, he paints the residents. He graduated to large scale murals and continues to make an impression with his photo-realistic angle of the people and places around him at the time. Just returning from a 3 month trip, starting in Mexico traveling through Colombia and into Brazil, he keeps learning with every experience, and his murals reflect that metamorphosis.

Even upstate New York, and my hometown of Binghamton, NY has been bit by the Damien Mitchell bug. He painted a Day of the Dead mural for an interior of a Mexican restaurant, Dos Rios Cantina and asked to come back for more. As Damien said on the podcast, "Watch this space Upstate New York!"

Damien is also headed back to Mexico along with a full list of artists, and Sold Magazine contributors. On November 9, 2018 The Festival de Arte de Akumal kicks off for its first celebration in Akumal, Mexico! Damien is just one of the artists headed down before the Winter starts here in NYC, and they are going to add some beautiful color to this community.

This mural was noteworthy for many reasons, and without much of a point. For all those lovers of lighthouse sunsets, beards, and snarling wink, this one was for you. As he moved to larger pieces, and broke away from the crutches of a cut out, Damien focused on mostly gray-scale portraits for awhile. He has yet again leveled up with the "The Lighthouse Keeper" and has broken through with the most dynamic colors yet!

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