The theft of a Playstation unwittingly set the Levien brothers towards a path of skateboarding and street art.
As children, the Paeroa boys’ game console got stolen, and they instead became distracted by skateboarding at the local bowl and the art on the bottom of the board decks.
“We got inspired by art through skateboarding, and us trying to mimic and copy the cartoons on the decks,” Janik Levien, 24, told The Profile.
“We haven’t gone to art school; we’re self-taught, and don’t really follow the rules.”
In 2018, Janik’s older brother Reuben, 27, was commissioned by Hauraki District Council to paint Paeroa’s new skatepark at Railway Reserve. The work featured characters from The Simpsons to Reuben’s own designs, as well as the eye-catching quote: Let the Good Times Roll.
The skatepark has recently been graffitied, but it was the piece that put Reuben “on the map”.
Now, the brothers will showcase their unique art style at a gallery in Ponsonby, Auckland.
Dubbed ‘Psychedelic Sways and Street Punk Ways’, the exhibition also features the talents of Titirangi artist Ellie Skeet.
It will run for four weeks at Te Ahu Art Collective, and will showcase hints of street art, punk, and psychedelic 60s style.
Born and raised in Paeroa, the brothers both attended Miller Ave Primary School and Paeroa College, where art was predominately their favoured subject.
“We left all our PE classes and did art and graphics classes,” Janik said.
When they were old enough to go to music and arts festivals, they were inspired to combine their music tastes with creativity, community, art, and design.
In 2018, they started hosting their own events across rural Waikato, and in 2021, their brand ‘The Busy Movement’ was formed.
The Busy Movement specialises in space curation and “vibe architecture”, with Janik acting as its creative director, and Reuben as the artist. The boys’ dad, Steve Levien, who inspired Janik and Reuben with his wood carvings, copper sculptures, and steampunk artwork, is also on-hand to help.
The Ponsonby exhibition, opening on June 7, will be the brothers’ first.
“We’re nervous because we haven’t put [the pieces] against a white wall before,” Janik said. “Some of the pieces are from stage productions… and in the gallery, we’ll be presenting a new art style that we’ve been working on, combining graffiti, street art, and cyberpunk.”
Reuben’s artistic flair can be found around Paeroa, with a mural outside Amberjack Candle Company on Willoughby St, and inside Old Mates Pizza on Belmont Rd.
The brothers are emphatic that more street art could add a vibrancy to their Hauraki hometown. They hope to hold a mural festival which will see some of Paeroa’s blank walls transformed into creative spaces.
“Murals don’t cost much, but are a way to bring life to a space, and a vibe,” Janik said.
The brothers, who still skate at the Paeroa skatepark, hoped to see locals at the exhibition opening next week.
They encouraged the town’s other creative youth to not be afraid to share their talents with others, and to take every opportunity.
“If you’ve got a vision or an idea, anything is possible.” DETAILS: ‘Psychedelic Sways and Street Punk Ways’ opening on June 7 at Te Ahu Art Collective, Mackelvie Street. The exhibition will run for four weeks. For information on The Busy Movement, find the brand on Facebook.