Oak City Hustle
Everybody Loves Bart Cusick

OakCity Hustle

Joe Bruno

Everybody Loves Bart Cusick

The only thing larger than the murals of Bart Cusick is his love of creative exploration. By navigating the intricacies of illustration, the grime of graffiti and the youthful subculture of the yo-yo, Bart has made his mark in the creative culture of Raleigh, North Carolina.

You may find yourself wandering the streets of downtown Raleigh when, BAM! You come face to face with a piece of art that is quite literally larger than life. Bart’s art blends in with the city landscape and is an integral part of the Oak City creative culture.

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When viewing large scale mural work I question if we ever stop to think about how that art made its way to that building. What daring artist decided to tackle such a grand challenge? How long did it take? Did he just walk up to the wall one day and say – “I’m going to paint you”? I recently had a conversation with Bart Cusick and asked him some of these questions. He provided me with answers and insight that never would have crossed my mind. For example, is the ground in front of your wall stable enough to hold a ladder? Is the building going to be knocked down anytime soon? Is it visible from the street? There is so much that goes into the guts of a mural before the glory of the artwork is accomplished.

While Bart is steeped in the local urban mural arts culture he has also worked as a freelance illustrator as well as a designer for a non-profit organization where he created animated eLearning courses for adult literacy. The courses aimed to help technologically illiterate adults navigate everyday tasks like using an ATM or filling out online job applications. The program provided a game-like environment that allowed adults to play through these scenarios before doing them in person. His career, both past and present, has shown how much art can influence people on a daily basis.

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You can currently find our featured artist working hard in his studio on 1115 West Lenoir Street. His recent projects include painting the infamous Kokyu BBQ truck in Durham, doing work for an Oregon based yo-yo company, designing hip hop album covers for local artists as well as illustrating and designing a “Kool Keith” poster for a recent show in Charlotte. Bart has also worked with our May cover artist, Victor Knight, on the Rubell family’s “30 Americans” exhibit at the NC Museum of Art. The piece they did was called “City Block” and was comprised of large 3D wood cut-outs with magnetic paint. Kids could create their own words and interact with the art. This piece continues with Bart’s theme of connecting people to his art – making their days a little brighter.

You can order prints from Bart at nuvango.com/bartcusick or you can email him directly at bartcusick@hotmail.com

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“I like to bring bright colors and smiles to where I live. I try to put a social statement in most of my artwork while keeping the work cartoony with a little bit of an edge“, Bart stated as we explored his approach to his art. It is clear that Bart sees interacting with art as a fundamental action of a burgeoning Raleigh culture. Excluding the Free Expression Tunnel at NC State, which is one of the only places you can still let loose, there is a dearth when it comes to places where an artist can explore in a public forum. “Raleigh could use more places where someone can go and paint and express themselves. Bringing people into the art makes it a public experience.” From digital designs to sky-high urban murals, the work of Bart Cusick is an experience you won’t soon forget.

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Sabrina Galli

Sabrina brings a versatility to the Oak City Hustle contributor squad that is tough to match. When she isn't working with Teach for America, reading or exploring North Carolina, Sabrina can be found wordsmithing the next feature article for Oak City Hustle.


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