Mitchell Schorr on How Childhood Memories are Depicted in his Art

York Prep alumnus Mitchell Schorr’s colorful street art has been ubiquitous throughout New York City over the past decade. Most recently his drawings of musicians were featured in The Met Fifth Avenue’s Play it Loud exhibit, and his Dripy painting hands permanently in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Schorr, who grew up in New York City, currently works out of his studio in Manhattan’s west side, where he creates art inspired by his childhood memories.
Bold oil paintings of re-imagined cereal boxes hang in his most recent show They’re Gr-r-reat! at Galerie Mourlot. His memories of these iconic flakes, loops, pebbles, and crisps stem from a childhood bereft of sugary cereals. “(Sugary) cereals were something that I couldn’t have, and I saw that other kids had it,” he says.

Schorr explains that everything in his art is connected to memories. An iconic ice cream truck appears throughout much of Schorr’s body of work--from his Da Race street art series to his oil paintings on canvas. “The ice cream truck was from a memory of what appeared to be free ice cream, “ he explains. “A truck came around, I gave him paper my parents gave me, and BOOM, ice cream was in my hand. “ During the opening of his ice cream social show in Southampton, New York, he even handed out free ice cream from his large painting of an ice cream truck.

Da Race,
a series of murals depicting a lone ice cream truck surrounded by speeding vintage race cars, started about a decade ago, when he was painting murals for the New York City Parks Department. Armed with a permit, Schorr took to the streets of New York City and transformed parks, pools, and other public spaces into dynamic landscapes. His created his first mural of a horse race in Sara D. Roosevelt Park in downtown Manhattan. The horses appeared to move as viewers switched their vantage points. Schorr’s street art was greatly inspired by cars. “I started realizing cars have these happy memories or unhappy memories, or a memory for everyone,” he says. “Everyone has some kind of memory of their first cars, or their parents’ first cars, or even their first car accident. So I started connecting those things, which brought me to the street art.” While many other popular New York City street artists employ teams of painters and gallons of paint to complete a piece of work, Schorr works solo with good, old-fashioned spray paint.

Schorr’s artistic inspiration can also be attributed to his years as a York Prep student. He entered in seventh grade, when York Prep was located on East 85th Street. “I loved the old building and the school, and have great memories from teachers and friends,” he says. In addition to Art, his other favorite subjects were Math, Science, and Latin. His favorite teachers were Mr. Howther, Mr. Ponti, and Ms. G. Ms. G, who taught Art, made him think about things from different angles. He says that he had great talks with Ms. G., and she always told him to keep up his art because it would take him places.

After graduating from York Prep, Schorr went on to earn his BA from Ithaca College. He then studied in Italy at the Lorenzo De Medici Italian Institute of Art, and has traveled and exhibited his work throughout Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa.

In addition to his painting in the Detroit Institute of the Arts, you can see They’re Gr-r-reat at Galerie Mourlot through the end of this month. His large scale mural, which is part of Da Race series lives on the rooftop of 520 Eighth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. You can view this mural from the top of the Empire State Building and on Google Earth. His outdoor murals can also be viewed at the Tecumseh Playground on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, the James Weldon Johnson Playground in Manhattan’s East Harlem, along the Detroit riverfront, and on a red barn in Burlington, Vermont.