Vero Beach, Florida, is a haven for the conservative elderly population of America. Known for its bridge clubs and early bird specials, it’s not the type of place you’d expect to find street art. However, Flee saw his town less as a setback and more as an untapped opportunity. Figuring “when the majority of people saw my stuff, they’d flee for their lives, fearing some kind of whippersnapper criminal activity,” Flee came up with a name and a plan to spread his art around.While he’s painted a few pieces in Miami, Flee says he likes working in a small town setting because no one else is doing it. “It exposes people to street art who might have never seen any before,” he explains, “and maybe it changes some negative opinions on art in public spaces. In a big city, painting a spot is like adding to one big canvas someone’s already been painting. The loneliness of a small city disappears and seeing other works by other artists makes me a happier person.”
As a “write-on-preschool-walls” kind of toddler, Flee cut his artistic teeth at an early age. But it wasn’t until a hospital visit and recovery time forced him off his feet that he really explored stenciling in-depth. “I was trapped at home and started painting out of boredom,” he recalls. “That’s when I discovered Banksy and stencils online. I eventually started experimenting with cutting stencils and I never stopped.”
Sounds like a fortuitous hospital visit. At first, his stencils were a bit rough around the edges. Through practice, he’s improved his cutting techniques for a crisper style. Painting with a friend as a lookout makes the job easier and more fun; so far, he’s yet to be nabbed by the cops. No matter the piece, Flee says his mission is all about beauty. “It’s about adding life to a boring public surface,” he insists. “I think everyone, old school or new school, does it because they think it adds to the community or because it gives them a voice. I think the motivations are similar.”
In the future, Flee hopes to stray from his tiny Floridian town and see what’s happening on other streets. “I want to travel around to faraway cities,” he says, “I’d love to paint there and just see what everyone else has done.” Feeding off the rush of the experience, Flee hopes that his pieces provoke viewers no matter where he paints. “I like the visual punch line,” he explains. “That’s one of the things that originally drew me to Banksy’s work. I want people to see something original, like an interaction with an object, or a stencil with meaning. I want it to make them think, or cringe, or laugh, or report it to the police. I want a reaction.”
Thanks, Flee! Keep holding it down. For more Flee photos, visit his Flickr.
ALSO: Last night rocked my socks, because I met the folks putting together the CCSU Mural Slam. If you're anywhere close to New Britain, CT, on October 3, definitely get on this between 9-5. If you want to participate, You have to contact Marissa by Monday, September 28. You BYOP ('p' for paint, kids) and get a big ol' chunk of wall all to yourself. I'll post more in-depth info next week, but GET ON THIS!
That's all for now. Let the weekend commence.