Many pedestrians may pay no attention to street-side vendors, some seeing them as just another obstacle in their way and having nothing of interest to offer. But when you find yourself walking down Sixth Avenue between West 4th and 3rd Street, two things may be of interest enough to slow down: paintings and painter.
Zorroz Spicer sets up his art exhibition everyday he can for the viewing public to buy. It is 12pm. Wearing deliberate paint splattered pants, black sneakers, and a gray and white peacock tail patterned shirt, Spicer finishes setting up a table with CDs, and wallets on his curbside shop. This is a new installment that wasn’t present a week earlier. He moves back and forth quickly from his duffel bag to his table and his paintings, making sure that everything looks and is secure.
Born in Brooklyn, Spicer got early exposure to the world of art. “My father was an artist. He painted portraits and was a photographer.” With a boisterous, distinct laugh showing a large white set of teeth that discontinue halfway around the left side of his upper set, he continued. “I had a normal childhood. I started painting when I was 11.”
When Spicer got older he moved to Florida and got a job selling insurance for JC Penny and Citibank. He hadn’t touched a canvas or brush in years. Then one day, at his second job as a stockman for a supermarket, he got injured. He wasn’t able to work for about a year. It was at that time, Spicer recalls, that he decided to pick up a canvas and start painting again. “If I didn’t get injured in Florida, I wouldn’t have started painting again.”
He decided to move back to Brooklyn. By this time, he had a few paintings to sell, “I chose this spot because it is the village. It is a lot of people. Tourists, everybody comes through here. A lot of traffic.”
One day he brought a few of his paintings out on the street. This was the day that got him where he is now. “I brought it out here—two people fought over it. I said I got business now. I knew I had something. That’s how I got started.”
Spicer’s work—from simple renditions of Betty Boop and a piece of an Ancient Egyptian wall to his own creations—is unique and has an awkward manner of itself like him. “With my work I am trying to warm the world. I am the true global warming.”
“This stuff can’t get anywhere near my first works. It uses to just come out of me. Monsters and, and …crazy stuff. It is a fight between good and evil, yin and yang. Life is like that.”
A tall man comes by, stops, and looks at all of Spicer’s work for quite some time. He talks with Spicer and ends up buying one of his paintings. “First sale of the day. I am happy.” It is been about two hours since he completely finished setting up. “Some days are good. Others—not so much. Any given day I can make an easy $150-250. And it is all tax free!” He laughs that deep laugh exposing his gap once more.
“I am controlling my own destiny and now I am paying taxes. You know what do I mean? Bottom line. That’s it. But I got dreams and goals, what can I tell you? I was born to be rich. I just made a couple detours, now I am back on the right road. Oh yeah, that’s life.