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Dani Abreu - An artist who is not afraid to break boundaries.

Dani Abreu

Over the past year or so, it has been Aplez.com's pleasure to introduce you to a diverse and intriguing array of talented artists and craft-makers. Their paintings, prints, jewelry, ceramic pottery and tableware have enhanced both your individual style as well as the ambiance of your home. It's hard to believe that the Borough of Queens is home to so many creative entrepreneurs. There just seems to be something about the various neighborhoods in Queens that encourages such creativity.

One of the real joys of writing and posting these blogs on Aplez.com is that the articles give our readers the opportunity to discover these amazing artists and artisans and get to know them a little bit better. After all, business is always personal. Many of the multi-faceted creatives who we have featured in the past are well-established in their endeavors while others are just starting out on their journey. One thing, though, that these artists ALL share is a PASSION for what they do. The words passion, imagination and creativity come to mind when describing Aplez.com's latest "Artist in the Spotlight, the very personable DANI ABREU.

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Although a relative newcomer, Dani is already beginning to make a profound impact on NYC's dynamic art scene. Dani's work utilizes a vibrant blend of colours as well as striking images that will engrave themselves on your mind and in your soul, forever. One cannot be indifferent to this young artist's creations. Dani's work has been described as " feel good art". Her more whimsical paintings and drawings will, no doubt, bring a smile to your face. However, when a person gazes at one of Dani's paintings, there's much more going on than meets the eye. But let us allow the artist to describe her "style", as it were, in her own words.

"Even though, for some viewers, my art may evoke that feel-good quality, I encourage people to take a second, deeper look and understand that not everything is as it seems. I'd like to think that my work has an introspective approach to it. Music is my guide. It helps me to navigate the depths of my emotions. My creations have a semi-realistic style which kind of reflects the blend between my imagination and the world around me. All I do in my art is intentional and if a mistake or little hiccup was spotted, then it becomes a part of the overall experience. I love it when people interpret my art. It's like looking at the numbers 6 and 9 from different angles. Both individuals who are looking at it from different perspectives, are right. "

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As Dani briefly mentioned previously, music is vital to her creative process. " I've never created a piece I was proud of without a good, curated playlist to go along with it. " flatly states our artist in the spotlight. Her go-to genre is alternative rock. However, if you were to sneak a peek at Dani's Apple Music App, you would find some totally surprising things in there, even some foreign sounds such as French, Japanese and Eastern European . " If the music evokes an emotion in me or, better put, if I get those chills like when a hammer hits the gong and it vibrates all over the cymbal, then it's being added to my library." Dani then added, " If you have ever watched Disney Pixar's SOUL, the zone state that they depict in the movie is how I feel when I'm both drawing and listening to music."

In addition to music, Dani was shaped as a person and an artist by her old neighbourhood in the Bronx and, of course, by her loving, tight-knit Dominican family. It was the kind of community where everybody looked out for each other. Dani's late father Enrique was a hard worker who instilled that ethic in his daughter. Nothing is handed to you in life. Expect to work your tail off for anything and everything you want. Despite the long hours that Enrique kept, he made time to help out his neighbours when they needed assistance. Mom Damaris battled frequent health issues when Dani and her brothers were growing up. But that didn't stop Damaris from selling empanadas ( pastelitos in the Dominican culture ),and passionfruit juice in addition to actively participating in the PTA meetings at the school her boys attended which was right behind the apartment building in which the family lived.

"We were pretty much lower-middle-class, explained Dani. But we made our own fun. Whenever my brothers and friends had a dollar or two in our pockets we'd run off to McDonald's and share some fries and burgers. My oldest brother made sure that we all had a blast, whether it was a video game tournament, learning how to make Cuban sandwiches or saving up for a NERF ball game. As I got older, I found out about the bus routes going to Fordham Road and Bay Plaza at Co-Op City so, when I received my small wages from babysitting, my hang-out areas expanded to the rest of the Bronx. Talking about this has made me a little nostalgic, " admitted Dani. " Taking this trip down memory lane has been good for me. Even though I didn't go to many fancy places growing up, I really admire how my neighbourhood shaped me. "Dani also wanted to give a huge shout-out to the wonderful charter school she attended and to the family that owned the La Fortuna restaurant and lounge. The sons and daughters of the owners became akin to Dani's "cousins", which is a common thing when Dominicans become close with a particular family.

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Dani had a love of art going all the way back to her early school years. "In school, whenever I heard ' art project ' or ' Illustration is optional ' I would get so excited to do my homework. Not only because I got to draw my way to an A but I also enjoyed showing the completed project to my friends. Art is my escape to satisfy myself during the actual process and , in turn, make others happy with the results."

Over time, Dani noticed that her drawings and illustrations began to bring out deeper feelings. It became, in fact, a journey with unlimited possibilities . "For me, art serves as a means of communication. I can express myself better by drawing than by trying to find the right words to say. "Dani has been working professionally as an artist for a few years now. But, it was only fairly recently that Dani experienced a life-changing moment that encouraged her to take her art to another level,entirely. And, wouldn't you know it, but it was sage words of advice from her late father, Enrique, that were the catalyst for change. The defining moment for Dani's art journey took place in November of 2023, when her father was in hospice care. " I remember showing him my recent drawings and other work just to pass the time. He asked me if I had any plans for my art. I hesitated and admitted that I used Instagram, primarily as a platform for the future. Then he asked ' Are you scared ?'. Before I could respond, Dad said "Don't be frightened. Do what makes you happy.' It caught me off guard because I always thought my father just wanted me to be financially stable. I had hustled to get a good job and had put my art on hold out of fear of the challenges that it might bring. That last conversation, though, shifted my perspective. Sure, being financially stable DOES matter-a lot. But why wait to be happy. That's when it hit me: I can do BOTH; be gainfully employed AND pursue my dreams."

Sometime this Summer, Dani will, hopefully, begin work on a project that has a lot of meaning for her , a mural that will honour her dad. The plan is for the larger-than-life mural to grace the wall of a building in the Bronx neighbourhood where Enrique was so loved and respected. The CEO of Housingworks, Charles King, signed off on the project during a memorial service for Enrique in February of this year. Dani's dad had been an employee of Housingworks since 2007.

"Seeing everyone from my childhood and those who worked with my dad turn out for the service made me tear up and open my eyes as to how important my father was in the local community, "recalled Dani." Like, I already knew ,but the magnitude of the ceremony just amplified it. So, when I asked Mr. King if I could do a mural of Dad as a tribute, I was elated when he said YES! I am thinking about making a portrait of him laughing and holding his parrot Navi, because that is how I would like people to remember my dad. I love to think, now that he has passed, that seeing parrots during my day-today is a little nudge from him saying ' I'm okay and I am watching over you, which is a very comforting notion for me."

The name of Ms. Abreu's brand is DANI BREWS. The moniker is certainly original and has a certain charm to it. Aplez.com asked the artist what the story was behind the name. "Well, my last name is Abreu and there are usually two pronunciations for it - ah-bray-oo or uh-broo. I've heard the second one so much over the years that I just embraced it. Also, I like how it sounds as in brewing some tea or brewing something up. So, that's the story of how my alias is now DANI BREWS. I added the TEA in my email just because I love a good cup of tea, whether it's some nice soothing jasmine green throughout the day, an Oolong milk tea if I want something sweet or a cup of chamomile if I'm winding down for the night . "

Should someone out there in the Aplez.com universe have any interest in either purchasing art from Dani or commissioning something special, the process is quite simple. Dani loves to engage with those who appreciate her art and is always interested in their opinions. "The process is pretty informal, to say the least."

By simply sending me an email or a message on Instagram they can soon own a DANI BREWS print ! Choose anything you like from my Insta page and, if it happens to be a video clip, the customer can share specifically what part of the clip they want as a print. If you are looking for something that evokes a specific feeling, I would carefully curate an array of options from my portfolio. I currently have three sizes for my prints: 8 by 8's, 10 by 10's and 12 by 12."With frames included, prices start at just fifty dollars Now, that's a deal worthy of Aplez.com. And we know something about that ! You may EMAIL Dani at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and her INSTAGRAM is @danibrewss.

Making impactful art starts with choosing the right tools. As an artist, Dani is forever seeking new and different materials to work with, ranging from the most basic to computer-based technology. As Dani grows as an artist she is determined to broaden her horizons. Dani became very animated when we asked her to describe her tools of the trade. " Well, if I'm just sketching, a good ol' pen and paper will do. When I was younger, I used to rely heavily on traditional mediums such as 2b and 4b pencils and charcoal. However, as technology advanced, so did my work. A few years ago, the Procreate app on iPad became my bread and butter for everything digital. I do my prints and my animations there. It is very user-friendly for someone who loves to draw and enjoys the digital world. But you thankfully DON'T have to be a genius with computers or 3D software to use it. I will be entering new territory soon , 30 second + animation with the vastly updated app-Procreate Dreams. I cannot wait to present the projects that I create from there."

One of the most popular questions that we ask our artists and artisans in their SPOTLIGHT interview is "Let's say that you were hosting a small dinner party at your apartment and you could pick five guests to break bread with, who would they be ? "Dani thought for a while before chiming in with her answer. " I would start with HAYAO MIYAZAKI, the Japanese animator, filmmaker and Manga artist, because of his views on life and how heavily they are depicted in his movies. Next up would have to be SALVADOR DALI because I would love to hear about his inspiration for DESTINO and the PERSISTENCE of MEMORY. And, he's also a little kooky and you need that in a party. Definitely, I would invite CHRIS MARTIN from the band COLDPLAY, to thank him for his wonderful songs and being an inspiration for my art. Hey, maybe he could bring his guitar and sing a bit. Another great guest would be KORRA from LEGEND of KORRA. A chat with her would help me to understand how to endure life's roughest obstacles and emerge a better person for it. Last but certainly NOT least, I would want to chat with a 27-year old version of MY MOM. Why ? Because I'm curious about how different my life and her life would look at this age. What would that conversation sound like ? Would we agree on different things ? That sounds like a pretty cool party to me ! "

Dani loves the foodie and nightlife scene in Astoria. Her boyfriend is an Astoria native and he has introduced Dani to a wealth of "yummy places", including Taverna Kyclades for some amazing Greek cuisine, Jack Jones Pub for their incredible truffle fries and fun cocktails and, of course, The Bonnie. " We go there every few weeks just for the nice atmosphere (and trivia night!), whether it's for dinner after work or weekend brunch."

Do yourself a huge favour and take some time to browse through Dani's Instagram. The images of her art are both entertaining and thought-provoking. One of the most intriguing images is of a man sitting on a chair , seemingly lost in thought , with , of all things, a fishbowl for a head. The title of this work of art is ODE to GOLDY and it is something that Dani is justifiably quite proud of. Ode To Goldy has a similar title to the song Ode to the Mets by The Strokes which is what the artist was listening to while she was starting to draw. She was also immersed in the sounds of At The Door, by the same band, that day. Those two songs, Dani told Aplez.com, tied in so well with what she was doing creatively. The finished art turned out to be somewhat of an ode to her father and how her family felt now that he was no longer around.

"The leaves and plant pot depict our remaining family of four."reccounted Dani, " while the living room portrays an uncertainty to this new chapter of life. The body in the middle is supposed to be my oldest brother. And while there's no face to show emotion,you can tell that he is pensive based on his body language. It didn't make sense at the beginning, when I was drawing it, but out of the blue, emotionally, I started to sketch a fishbowl for his head. I added in a tiny little dead goldfish to represent my father."

We don't want to give away any more at this point. Why don't YOU take a look at this marvelous work of art and see what your interpretation is . What does it mean to YOU ? More than anything, Dani wants her work to be interactive; to spur emotion and thought within the viewer. And, while you're at it, why not think about which prints you feel would look good on your living room or bedroom wall or to add some much needed pizzazz and class to that soulless office cubicle or as a conversation piece to add to the decor of your bar or cafe ? After all, when DANI BREWS you just know that the finished product is going to be well worth waiting for.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024