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Art Rapture draws interest in Mott Haven

Bronx Times
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As Manhattan and Brooklyn’s art scene continue to be an enclave for well-known artists, an ambitious movement is budding in the Bronx.

Dubbed Art Rapture, the movement aims at turning the Bronx into a Mecca of art by introducing undiscovered artists to the world.

“We created Art Rapture as an artistic fusion,” said Frankie Caamano, the brainchild of the movement inspired by a similar project in San Diego, California.

Since March, he and business partner DJ Menyu have supplied artists with a free venue to present their work – in this case the gallery at the Bruckner Bar and Grill in Mott Haven, a nexus for artistic creativity with help from the nabe’s gradual gentrification.

Each gallery shows art, performing artists, drumming DJ and a “network of professionals networking.”

“There’s a renaissance going on in the Bronx and it needs to be showcased,” said Caamano, owner of Oak Hill Realty, a Manhattan-based firm.

“We give an artist the opportunity to make a name for themselves,” said Menyu, 37, an English teacher at Spelman High School, who moonlights as a professional disc jockey.

Like Menyu, Caamano sees the borough as “an impetus of talent” overshadowed by a negative image branded by the borough’s blight in the 70s.

“We take that concept that the Bronx is Burning and flip it upside,” said Caamano. “So the Bronx is booming.”

Menyu agreed, adding the movement revives an art scene that once saw the musical birth of hip hop.

“We want to bring that culture back here,” said Menyu. “To where it’s originally started.”

The pair has hosted numerous galleries, featuring work from several unknown Boogie Down artists.

The movement’s focal point is its thematic adaptation.

For the exhibit set for Saturday, September 22 at 8 p.m., Bronxites will step into the days of Ms. Pac-Man and Reaganomics with “80s Retro.”

Local artists Danny Garcia, Gladys LaFrossia, Desiree Torres and Demostina will put on an 80s pop art exhibit, featuring variations of the famed “Crack is Wack” mural of 1986 or a funky take on President Ronald Reagan’s presidential portrait.

Also on hand will be beat boxers -- musical artists who imitate drum tunes with their mouth.

On top of exposure, another selling point for Art Rapture artists is they can take their profits home with them. Artists pay no commission fees, according to Caamano, a major financial hurdle for starving artists.

The medium is certainly intriguing for Caamano, an entrepeneur who admits to living through the artistic acumen of the creators.

“I live through the artist with the work they put on the wall,” said Caamano.

But his capitalistic knack has allowed him to streamline several business transactions during gallery openings, including the buying process for prospective sellers and buyers. He’s introduced them to several smartphone apps like PayPal.

“It’s like doing a transaction in the street but it’s fully secured,” said Caamano.

Above all the perks, Caamano and Menyu show no signs of stopping. They’ve already planned a website, another exhibit in Manhattan and soon Los Angeles

“Hopefully there’ll be an Art Rapture LA, Art Rapture Miami and we’re gonna be all over the place,” said Caamano.

To learn more about the movement go to facebook.com/theartrapture.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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