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Graffiti Class Teaches Kids the Art of the Spray Can

By Janet Upadhye | August 26, 2013 8:58am
 Valeen Bhat of Private Picassos is teaching a graffiti painting class to kidas ages 5 and up in Brooklyn Bridge Park on September 7, 2013.
Graffiti Classes for Kids
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DUMBO — The writing is on the wall.

While many say graffiti is an eyesore and the city works to erase it from local communities, one woman is training young children — some not yet old enough to read — to pick up a spray bottle and learn to write their own graffiti.

Valeen Bhat, founder of Private Picassos mobile art studio, hosts outdoor graffiti classes for children ages 5 and up. In her class students learn to create their own graffiti art on large-scale canvas.

"I think it is important for children to learn from the contemporary art that is out there and surrounding them," Bhat said. "It was the graffiti and public art in DUMBO that motivated me to offer these workshops."

Bhat is clear that she is not encouraging the defacement of property.

"We will definitely talk about creating street art legally and being mindful of what is your property and what is not," she said. "These days street artists are being commissioned to paint on public spaces — that is the kind of graffiti art that we are encouraging."

Bhat provides stencils and spray bottles filled with water color that mimic the spray cans used by graffiti artists. She said the stencils are not dumbed-down and cutesy but funky and help children to use their own experiences to create unique works of art.

She offers private classes in students' homes and as part of her Art Birthday Party package. Her first public workshop will take place at the Fort Greene Flea on Saturday, Sept. 28 with future classes in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park and McCarren Park. Check her website for schedules and note that kids should come "dressed for a mess."