- Words and Photos by Erica Stella and Stephanie
Eyez on a Park Slope Charter School
Peat Wollaeger AKA "EYEZ" has been a huge contribution to the Welling Court Mural Project ever since he met Garrison Buxton at Art Basel Miami 9 years ago, making him one of the veterans of the Astoria, Queens celebration. His annual trip has always brought a smile to NYer's faces. This Midwest stenSOUL artist, designer and entrepreneur comes to town with enough energy and enthusiasm for an entire football team; but Peat Wollaeger also brings the positive light and inspiration.
In 2017, Bytegirl re-capped the last few cycles of his WCMP wall, along with a Q&A with the man from the Lou. In 2018, after completing his wall, Peat sat down with the Sold Crew for a special "In The Spray Room" episode. And this year, his trip was yet again story worthy!
When EYE greeted Peat this year, he had an intro that EYE also heard him repeat throughout the day: "Just call me Brian Donnelly!" He was having fun with his EYEriginalFAKE "forced collaboration" with KAWS; the theme he took on for 2019. With the continued increase of commercialization and corporate interest in graffiti and street culture, Peat's comment is to keep our EYEZ open to what is fake and what is original - and does it even matter today? While KAWS creates characters that represent death, EYEZ encourages us to keep our 3rd EYE open.
Staying in Park Slope, BK with a friend this time around, he took a stroll one morning for coffee before heading to Queens. While taking in the beautiful weather, and new buildings that wouldn't have been there a year before, he noticed a teacher with her students painting a mural on the side of their school! The Hellenic Classical Charter School was getting up on this wall, and Ms. Stephanie Scharf was the leader of the magic!
Peat offered his services, and taught Stephanie some tricks to make her job easier, be economical with paint, and make a more dynamic mural for the neighborhood! Stephanie couldn't believe her luck, that not only someone was willing to help her with her project, but an actual pro.
Stephanie Scharf told Sold Magazine:
"When I first met Peat, I remember saying: 'I’m the science teacher; I have absolutely NO artistic ability! - as for the mural...my students are the talented ones.' But after working with him & learning some tricks of the trade - nowadays, I find myself traveling all over the place, looking for stores that sell Montana spray paint! I learned first hand: the quality of the paint, can make all the difference! I never considered myself artistically inclined; but I learned from Peat, and I really embraced the notion that “anyone can create art!”
The HCCS mural project began on April 15th indoors, with students drawing images they felt represent the school. In honor of Earth Day this year, Stephanie took on the initiative to give all of students an opportunity to influence the people in the community; to create something beautiful in our NYC concrete jungle. The goal was for the mural to make people think twice before throwing garbage on the ground. This exercise gave all of the grade levels a reason to value our environment, despite the lack of green spaces in the immediate area. After Peat's contribution, and continued work by more students, the mural was finally completed on June 25th.
The HCCS Kindergarten class adding their handprints:
After helping out, Stephanie wanted to see what this Welling Court Mural Project was all about - she was sure she found a new interest. She was happy to give back and lend an assist for Peat's annual wall, and is sure she's made a friend for life!
This was one of those feel good stories that can get lost in all the bigger events that go on in the Big Apple. I was thankful to hear about this chance occurrence from Stephanie, and jumped at the chance to meet up with her when the youngest students added their personal touch to the wall. She also created a diagram of the mural, so the students can track which handprint is theirs as they grow. For both of these teachers, Stephanie and Peat, they gained a lot through this chance meeting: science and art coming together for a good cause - awareness.
Keep your EYEZ open for more from Peat on his Instagram, be sure to shop his website & if you are ever in St. Louis make sure to visit!