Born in Queens, NY, Kidlew experienced subway graffiti and original work from Keith Haring in the 70s and 80s, and Haring became a major influence. In his early teens he rode his BMX bike around Long Island, tagging with magic markers. Eventually, he moved on to spray paint. ‘I was a troublemaker and I was always creative. I had been drawing since I was a little kid. It was innate. Painting on walls or trucks was an extension of drawing on books, lockers or skateboards. It was a good creative outlet’, he says.
The goal of his Kidlew’s art is to bring people together, which he feels is a good fit to St.Art’s mission of bringing hope and unity back into a divided community.
‘As a native New Yorker, I have seen the great divide more times than necessary’, he continues. ‘As an Asian American, I can tell you countless stories about how I have been the victim of racial attacks, profiling and discrimination. People are screaming for change.’
When he paints in low income neighborhoods, Kidlew looks at it as a beautification process. ‘If you can make people smile after a hard day at a work, if in that moment you can change that feeling, then it’s all good’, he says. He immediately resonated with St.Art’s mission, partly because it is reminiscent of a festival he’s involved with annually in NYC called the Welling Court Mural Project. It’s held in Astoria, Queens where there is a great divide of low income housing on one side and high end development on the other. Each year artists come together there to paint murals and do workshops, and it brings every race, culture, age, gender and economic status together. He is excited to bring this energy to St. Louis. ‘Based on what I know about St. Louis, it seems like the community is fighting fear with fear. Rome was not built in a day. Hopefully the community will see that change can come if you believe it can. Art holds no boundaries,’ Kidlew remarks. ‘While owning fine art is not accessible to most; memories, feelings, conversations—they are free. Anybody can have and share what art means to them.’