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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Brushes and paint from cans are the tools. Concrete is the canvas. And for California-based mural artist Madsteez, the mission is personal.

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“I feel we have a gift, and to give back to the community is priceless,” Madsteez told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

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Madsteez came to Miami for Art Basel, as he does every year. However, this time he is putting his skills to use for students in Miami’s Wynwood Art District.

His project is a mural of Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning facing the basketball courts at Jose de Diego Middle School.

“I am kind of known for my portraits, so they asked me to do him,” he said.

Madsteez is one of dozens of international artists committing their time and talent before Art Basel to transform the school’s blank white walls.

Notably, a giant student in the corner of the building , donning a dunce cap, was the creation of French artist MTO. He painted the massive piece in just two days.

Students said the school needed a visual transformation.

“This looked like a jail, because all you would see is blue and white walls. Now that these paintings are here it’s attracting to everybody,” said 8th grader Matthew Martinez.

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Students like 7th grader Maline Gustave have watched the artists at work in awe.

“Those right here around the school make me imagine that one day I could be one of them,” said Gustave.

The inspiration is significant given that budget cuts led to the axing of art class at the school for the past four years.

First-year principal Dr. April Thompson Williams decided to revive the art program. In part thanks to donations from the artists involved in the project coordinated by the Wynwood Art District Association.

“I saw opportunity for change. I saw opportunity to bridge the gap between where my school is and what’s three blocks away – the actual galleries,” said Williams.

As amazing as the art is, the amount of time it took to get this project together is just as impressive. According to Williams, it took just three months to meet with organizers, the artists and the school board to make the project happen. In all, 38 murals will go onto the school’s walls by the end of this week.

For Madsteez, these works are about ensuring students who attend school so close to Wynwood’s art community also keep art close to their hearts.

“Who knows? The next Picasso could be at this school,” said Madsteez.


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