Cafe Graffiti: street kids do art at Montreal center FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 29 Nov 1998 01:57:42 -0400


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FWD  Montreal Gazette - Thursday 26 November 1998

KIDS DRAW THE LINE ON LIFE ON THE STREET

MONIQUE DYKSTRA The Gazette

Seven years ago, a social worker and part- time artist in
Hochelaga-Maisonneuve invited street kids to paint and draw in his
studio.

In the first week, so many kids came he had to make a schedule.

"For these kids, drawing is a passion. Sketch books are like a drug.
When they don't have paper, they draw on the tables, the walls,
anywhere," Raymond Viger says.

Last year, Viger opened Cafe Graffiti on Ste. Catherine St. E. It's a
drop-in centre for kids, or anyone else with a passion for painting
and graffiti. Canvases cover the walls. There are graffiti on the
ceiling, the bathrooms, the basement, and for three block around the
cafe. Today, the kid's paintings are shown regularly in exhibitions,
and corporations like Coke, Bell Canada and Hydro hire them to paint
murals.

"Graffiti is just a pretext," says Viger. "What's important is
helping the kids find things that make them happy, and giving them a
place in society.

Viger is changing the world, one kid at a time. In the process, he's
changing himself.

"I dropped out of school when I was a kid. I lived downtown for two
years.

Then my father killed himself. My mother died of cancer. I made two
attempts at suicide. Then I went to therapy. I really liked the way
that therapist helped me. He believes (that) when you have a personal
problem, part of your therapy is helping other people."

These kids are alone. They've been kicked out of home. Expelled from
schools. Some have drug problems. They've been beaten. Transferred
from family to family. The worst thing you can say to them is 'I love
you.' I have this one guy, he starts shaking every time I tell him
that. They don't know what love is. Family love has no meaning at
all. Even now, that guy still shakes when I say, 'I love you.'

For five years, I lived on welfare so I could work with them. I
didn't have an apartment. My welfare was $384 per month. Try to rent
an apartment, to eat and buy clothes with that. Right now, I'm on a
six-month grant. It's the first time I've been paid for this job.

Working with these kids has helped me a lot. I've discovered I'm a
very sensitive. I need to work with people to nourish that
sensitivity. It's a kind of flower I have inside. Each time I help
people, I water my own flower. At the same time, I help other people
plant seeds their own gardens."

- For more information about the Graffiti Cafe, call 256-9000.

END FORWARD
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** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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FWD  Montreal Gazette - Thursday 26 November 1998


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>KIDS DRAW THE LINE ON LIFE ON THE
STREET


MONIQUE DYKSTRA The Gazette

</paraindent>

Seven years ago, a social worker and part- time artist in

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve invited street kids to paint and draw in his

studio. 


In the first week, so many kids came he had to make a schedule. 


"For these kids, drawing is a passion. Sketch books are like a drug.

When they don't have paper, they draw on the tables, the walls,

anywhere," Raymond Viger says. 


Last year, Viger opened Cafe Graffiti on Ste. Catherine St. E. It's a

drop-in centre for kids, or anyone else with a passion for painting

and graffiti. Canvases cover the walls. There are graffiti on the

ceiling, the bathrooms, the basement, and for three block around the

cafe. Today, the kid's paintings are shown regularly in exhibitions,

and corporations like Coke, Bell Canada and Hydro hire them to paint

murals. 


"Graffiti is just a pretext," says Viger. "What's important is

helping the kids find things that make them happy, and giving them a

place in society. 


Viger is changing the world, one kid at a time. In the process, he's

changing himself. 


"I dropped out of school when I was a kid. I lived downtown for two

years. 


Then my father killed himself. My mother died of cancer. I made two

attempts at suicide. Then I went to therapy. I really liked the way

that therapist helped me. He believes (that) when you have a personal

problem, part of your therapy is helping other people." 


These kids are alone. They've been kicked out of home. Expelled from

schools. Some have drug problems. They've been beaten. Transferred

from family to family. The worst thing you can say to them is 'I love

you.' I have this one guy, he starts shaking every time I tell him

that. They don't know what love is. Family love has no meaning at

all. Even now, that guy still shakes when I say, 'I love you.' 


For five years, I lived on welfare so I could work with them. I

didn't have an apartment. My welfare was $384 per month. Try to rent

an apartment, to eat and buy clothes with that. Right now, I'm on a

six-month grant. It's the first time I've been paid for this job. 


Working with these kids has helped me a lot. I've discovered I'm a

very sensitive. I need to work with people to nourish that

sensitivity. It's a kind of flower I have inside. Each time I help

people, I water my own flower. At the same time, I help other people

plant seeds their own gardens." 


- For more information about the Graffiti Cafe, call 256-9000. 


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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