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How @JaFleuTheArtist Is Helping Palm Beachs Urban Visual Artists

Jafleur
Exhibit Treal is coming fast at us…faster than a bright color leaking from an artist’s paint brush. It’s an initiative co-created by the Palm Beach-based visual artist, and art curator known as Jason “JaFleu” Fleurant, and it’s a movement that has urban creatives in the West Palm Beach/South Florida area connecting with one another, while sharing ideas. While it’s being promoted as a creative haven for visual artists, creatives of all passions have been looking towards it as an outlet to filter out promoting strategies, network with other creatives, and publicize their artistic and other endeavors.

So, Jason…Jasun…you’ve been up to so much lately. Let’s start off by discussing the last three paintings you worked on?
Now that’s surprisingly difficult these days. I’ve kinda of took a pretty extended break from painting the last few months to focus on what I’m doing now with Exhibit Treal. But the last three that really stick in my head was these large scale paintings. We’re talking seven feet each.

The first being “Oshun: The Orisha of Love. I just wanted to pay homage to the black goddess, and I used features I loved from various women I’ve dated to create her.

Then there’s “For My Negus with Daughters”, which was basically my ode to black fathers everywhere. Because for myself, I know a lot of men who are real fathers so I wanted to combat the images the we are often shown.

Lastly, there’s another painting, and it’s probably my favorite. [It’s called] “Graduated with Hiii Honors”. At the time, my [social media] timeline was flooded with photos of all these amazing women I knew graduating from colleges, and I wanted to show love to them.

I particularly enjoyed the process of making this one because I painted it outside on my
then-porch when I lived in an artist residency [facility]. We lived in what some call the hood, but to me it was just home. Everyone was cool and they loved to just come see me work. I’d just [leave my] art outside overnight and nothing ever happened to them. It would be more concern of the galleries trying to take it. The best part was seeing how inspiring it was for them all. That inspired me.

Kreyolicious: How did you new initiative Exhibit Treal come about?
I’ve been curating exhibits and art shows for a while. Again, taking it back to the artist residency where I lived. We just took advantage of the four walls of the apartment and them exhibits in there.

Kreyolicious: Catchy name by the way.
Thank you. For some reason, I couldn’t get Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C” song out my head. And at this point, my friends and I were saying “treal” a lot ’cause we felt that was another level…something to aspire to. To always be truly real. And I just wanted to focus on exhibits that we felt was treal, so we started calling the shows that, and it stuck.

I wanted to use it as a vehicle to give opportunities for black artists in Palm Beach and further[more as a way] to always give back in some fashion. To me, that’s what’s treal…using the arts to be a factor and make a difference in the community. Things mentally I’ve always already believed and acted on. And the dope thing is other artists believe in it. Particularly Tracy Guiteau…the co-founder. She really just one day said, “I believe in this, and that it can be big.” So we just decided, “Let’s do this,” and here we are several shows later. It’s been crazy—a real blessing from God. We’ve got our motto “Be Safe. Keep what you Kill. Stay Treal”, but I think the thing that really explains our mentality is we say amongst ourselves a quote from the movie Juice: “No one man above the crew”. As long as we all move as a unit, nothing can stop us.

It’s also sort of an artist’s development. Tracy and myself have gotten a lot of knowledge over the years, so we help guide artists we work with best we can…while letting them be themselves and grow naturally.
Exhibit Treal
Above: A JaFleur painting entitled “Graduated with Hiii Honors”.

Kreyolicious: What’s the art scene like in the Palm Beach area?
It’s a mixture of your typical art scene and it’s—I guess—slowly trying to emulate Wynwood in Miami. There’s been a lot of usage of art to gentrify black areas…And I personally just see Exhibit Treal as kind of the clap back to that. We’re just trying to show the Treal side of things while not getting caught up in the bs. I love where I’m from and there’s a lot of talent that needs to be appreciated, but not just visual arts. So, we work to push and promote black art in all ways.
Exhibit Treal exhibit

Kreyolicious: What’s your advice to other visual artists…those just starting out?
You’re gonna laugh, but it’s simply to…be safe. Keep what you kill and stay Treal. Always be aware of the situations whether it’s dealing with galleries, collectors or anyone trying to just use you. Always make sure you get the best out of it. Go hard at all times. Leave it all on the floor. A lion doesn’t catch the gazelle to let it go. It keeps what it kills. Always go the extra mile for you and [do] not let anyone take you and your gifts for granted. And lastly, always do what you feel is best and true to who you are and give back. Even if it’s the smallest thing, ripples have long effects.

Kreyolicious: How do you make sure you’re staying on top of your game?
I’d say buy just not trying. I don’t view it as competition anymore. There is more than enough room for everyone. With Exhibit Treal, it’s just a focus on giving your best. I believe that’s what people respect and gravitate towards.
Exhibit Treal
Kreyolicious: What’s next on the horizon?
Only God knows. We are working to put together a Haitian art exhibit among other things. We’ve just started our own book drive which will lead to a book fair and art show where adults are doing book reports. It’s exciting to see grown-ups hype about reading. We’ve things plan as far as youth projects we hope to get off the ground soon…It’s been kinda hectic, but beautiful. I feel I made the right choice backing away from creating art to be able to promote and push other artists. It’s a funny journey for me to sit back and reflect on now as to where we are and going. All praises to The Most High for keeping it treal!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE EXHIBIT TREAL BLOG. WANT TO HIRE JASON TO SPEAK AT YOUR EVENT, OR COMMISSION HIM FOR A PAINTING, OR ART PIECES? CONNECT WITH JAFLEU ON TWITTER|

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