“Mural Madness Extravaganza” is a self published – limited edition book that Jen Stark and Alvaro Ilizarbe made.
The book is a compilation of photographs of inner city institutions, and business murals.
When we started this project we wanted to document the best inner city business murals all over Miami. We noticed that a lot of them were done by $erge. He was everywhere. So we decided to give him a call and meet at his car wash in Little Haiti.
MME: You’re all over Miami. Your murals are everywhere.$erge: I know man. I jus’ love ta paint. I been doin’ it since junior year in highschool. You know the kids don’t have time or money for the art galleries but when the murals are on the street everyone can see ‘em. They say, “Serge, you can’t paint on a canvas?” But I love them huge works. It’s more exciting.
MME: Did you paint this whole building?
$erge: Yeah, I just turned this whole house into a submarine. There’s things I wanna do for myself but I’m so busy paintin man. Dats the main reason why I expose it, for people that can’t afford the art galleries. They still see the beauty of art. It’s hard to be an artist. Your girlfriend be like “Oh, you don’t have no time for me.” And I’m like “But baby I’ve been making paintings about you” But paintings don’t pay the check and I end up paying child support. I ain’t got no time for me and there’s no fishin. I be like fishin and she be callin me on the phone sayin “Where you at?” And I’m like “I’m fishin tryin to bring some food for supper” And she’s like “What you should be doin is bringin home the check.” I just can’t stop paintin. And if I don’t do it someone else’ll get it before me.
MME: In a couple of your murals it says you’re against smoking.
$erge: It’s just because……well, I ‘m a smoker. But I paint, “Don’t smoke it’s bad for you, son.” I always put the word ‘son’ because I’m speakin to the kids. But if you notice I put the money because you spend all your money on it. “Don’t smoke it’s bad for you, son.” But they still be buyin cigarettes anyways.
MME: What areas have you painted in Miami?
$erge: Oh, all around here (Little Haiti), Carol City, Liberty City, even as far as Opa-Locka, the Fashion District. Like ‘Mr. Pocketbook’
MME: Oh, you did ‘Mr. Pocketbook’?! Thats not really your usual style.
$erge: Yeah, man that was me. I did that.
MME: Yeah, Its next to the paintings of the ones with the lady. Is that the lady that owns the business?
MME & $erge (together): NADIA!!!
$erge: Yeah, Nadia, Nadia! That’s the one that left me man! ‘Cause I don’t have time for the family. I try to put her name up there to show her, “You know I’m doin paintin’s aboutchoo.” But it didn’t work. She left me. I don’t trust relationships. They just gonna leave me. I just gotta paint. Man, I used to have ‘Nadia’ eggs, ‘Nadia’ soda. I have alot of ‘$erge’ cokes, too.
MME: How’d you get the name ‘$erge’?
$erge: Growin up in Haiti there were a lot of Serges. And I thought, “What can I do to change my Serge?” So one day I sat down and designed my $erge. And you notice I put them three dots on it. The dots are a mason sign ’cause I’m a traveler. All the artists are born mason. My culture’s into the voodoo. But that can’t affect me as long as I don’t touch their stuff. I’m from another world dats why you think I’m crazy because you not on my level of craziness. But I think you’re crazy, too. I’m way too far ahead of you ’cause I’m travelin, I’m travelin. I got all these articles about me. From NY, LA, all over the place. People tell me you should move out to LA ’cause you can make so much more money out here. But I’m in Miami. I’m from the ghetto. I wanna be a local artist. This is my spot. I belong in Dade County. And people think I’m big man, man, oh man. It’s just me, $erge, from the hood. I jus love ta paint. I can paint anything, any size, anywhere, anytime.