Photo by David Gonzalez/ The New York Times

A Prominent Brooklyn Artist Is Getting Paid In Tobacco– And Community

• Apr. 14, 2014 • Trending NewsComments (0)3263

It’s long been known that artists, for the most part, aren’t motivated by money. But most would like the recognition they feel they deserve. Artist David Ellis, an outdoor painter and sculptor in New York City, has discovered how to get that recognition. You can’t let your piece wait for people in a museum, you take your work to them.

For the past few weeks Ellis, 43, along with his assistants, has been painting a mural in Ralph’s, an old bodega in Brooklyn. His commission? Coffee and tobacco. Other works by Ellis have fetched tens of thouhsands of dollars but Ellis says his payback for this piece is community.

“And people will see it here,” Ellis told The New York Times. “Man, I could get 50 grand for something like this for a museum, but nobody would see it. But here, at least 500 people pass through each day.”

Ellis sees the mural as his way of giving back to the neighborhood where he has crashed with friends on and off for 10 years. It’s also his way of giving back to the owner of the bodega, Ralph Jawad,  who has leant Ellis juice and cigarettes for years.

Though Jawad was skeptical of Ellis’ artistic capabilities at first, even calling him a “nut,” he was quickly convinced after seeing a piece Ellis did in DUMBO, Brooklyn.  That’s when Jawad asked Ellis to paint his bodega.

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