Men of Art, Visual and Verbal

Last night I introduced two friends, one man whose art speaks through shape, color and form, and another whose art speaks through word, rhythm, and meter.  The venue: RAW Art Works, 37 Central Square, Lynn MA.  The informal introduction, months in the making, lasted just an hour.

Jason Cruz, a man I first met and trained with at North Shore CrossFit, has guided local youth for 15 years at RAW to expression and release through art and creativity, letting their creations tell their stories, many unrefined, emotionally charged, and otherwise unheard (or worse, expressed through violence or other objectionable means).  Enzo Surin, a published poet, author, literacy advocate, and Pushcart Prize nominee is a friend of many years whose art and its impact on young people continue to grow in scope and recognition.  Both men, with great heart for the youth of their local communities, use their unique talents to influence, challenge and encourage young people to become more than what typical society says they must become because of their social, economic and domestic conditions.

The three young men who were also there working on their current project pieces were courteous hosts and presented good handshakes and solid introductions to myself and Enzo.  As Jason said, “they could be anywhere” and yet they chose to be at RAW last night.  I withhold their names here, not because I do not remember them or because they are without significance, for that is certainly not the case, but to provide a trust that was not necessarily requested yet that is certainly deserved.  These young men, who have much more to deal with than I had at their age, shared a glimpse into their worlds, their thoughts, their stories with Enzo and me, and were very attentive and respectful as we were able to casually share a few of our own experiences from our younger days.  I certainly hope to see these young men again in future visits.

In the one hour that we were onsite at RAW, we engaged in conversation on athletics, writing, coaches, potential, current pieces on and their meaning; and shared curiosity, openness, encouragement, challenge, visual art, and even some impromptu poetry.  Enzo and I were able to make a solid impact on the three young men through our stories that they showed genuine appreciation for at the end of our time together.  Before we parted ways, all of us described the evening with phrases that included “awesome”, “creative-minded”, “inspiration”, “future”,  and “destiny” and rated our day as ending at a net-positive; one of the young men even acknowledging that though his evening had begun at a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, during our visit, it turned into an 8.

I had waited all day (not to mention the months in planning) to introduce Enzo to Jason and meet the RAW crew.  At the end of the night, I was certainly not disappointed.  That was what it was all about.  That was the reason we were there.  Those three young men were the reason Enzo, Jason, and my schedules finally lined up last night, let alone the many other lives that will be touched and forever changed by these men and their collaboration in the future.

Neither Jason nor Enzo, separated by less than a mile in the center of their city, had any real knowledge of the other’s passion and work until last night.  The impact of that meeting cannot be estimated, it can only be observed in days ahead.  From what we saw and all felt of the meeting, the future will be much brighter for many of the urban youth of Lynn MA because of the efforts of these two artists and their unique and complementary delivery styles.

Thank you Jason and Enzo for setting aside the time for our introduction.  I look forward to what future collaboration amongst us will produce and the exponentially greater positive impact it will have on the young people of Lynn and the surrounding areas.

More to come.  That, I’m certain of.

For more information on Jason Cruz and RAW Art Works, visit [Click on the “Giving to RAW” link in the middle of the top menu for an online donation form.]

For information on and booking for Enzo Surin’s work, visit


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