WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets in support of the Drink Up initiative kicked off with the arrival of First Lady Michelle Obama at the New Museum. The First Lady was welcomed by the founders of WAT-AAH!, CEO Rose Cameron and her two sons, prior to receiving a private tour of the exhibition.
Before the private tour began, Rose explained to the First Lady that the inspiration behind WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets came about when one day walking around SoHo with her son Luke, they saw Kenny Scharf's mural up on the famed Bowery wall on Houston street. That day Luke challenged Rose to someday find a way to put Kenny's artwork on the WAT-AAH! bottles, claiming that would be 'totally cool to kids.' So in keeping with WAT-AAH!'s mission to fight childhood obesity, to make water undeniably cool to kids and to support Drink Up, Rose took on Luke's challenge by creating WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets as a way to get kids thinking creatively and actively about drinking water.
During the private tour Rose explained to the First Lady that enlisting Kenny Scharf to participate in WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets was very crucial in adding authenticity and the necessary credibility to get other artists to join the initiative. WAT-AAH!'s appreciation of Kenny's support for this initiative was reflected in a special tribute curated to commemorate his efforts with working with kids through art.
One of the other highlights of the exhibition was a special installation created by artist Damien Mitchell. His piece was a triptych series of layered stencil works created on clear plexiglass with one of the images featuring the founder's son, Luke Cameron. His installation was a special reminder to all that the mission of WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets is about making kids' and young teens health a priority by making water cool.
While guiding the First Lady on a tour, Rose also introduced the First Lady to select artists who contributed to the project giving them an opportunity to speak about how their art could be used as a tool to help kids connect to the message of Drink Up. After interacting with the artists and their works, she was shown an exclusive first look at the same art translated into specially designed bottles created for WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets. She was impressed with the cool, cutting edge engaging designs that the artists had created for the bottles.
After the private tour the First Lady surprised a group of eighth graders from NYC downtown school, Little Red Elisabeth Irwin (LREI). The students first thanked Rose and WAT-AAH! for the special opportunity to participate in WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets. The students then presented to the First Lady a commemorative Drink Up mural made in collaboration with artist Trey Speegle. The students also unveiled to the First Lady artwork exclaiming Drink Up's motto: You are what you drink and when you drink water, you drink up! This art they created was also translated into a special edition WAT-AAH! bottle design.
The First Lady then engaged with the kids on the meaning of the Drink Up mural & the importance of WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets being integral to getting kids to drink more water, more often.
The First Lady then capped off the event by signing the Drink Up mural, which was met with applause from the press and everyone in attendance. Her presence and participation at the event created an immediate buzz with the press generating stories from top media outlets like NY Daily News, BET, AM New York, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Vogue, CBS News and more.
The second portion of WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets was a private event held at the New Museum. The event was met with an overwhelming attendance highlighted by a line of over 1,300 people eagerly anticipating entry (only 400 guests were expected by WAT-AAH!). The buzz about WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets made the private event the "it" happening in the city. Organizers from the New Museum made mention that 'they have never had an event this popular and exciting in quite some time.'
The event was attended by top luminaries in the art world, tastemakers, influencers, professional athletes, young and emerging artists, lifestyle personalities, musicians as well as representatives from top media outlets. The event was a cross section of the underground scene as well as business leaders, socialites and tastemakers in fashion and art making the event a true success for the brand.
WAT-AAH!'s Taking Back the Streets exhibit continues with a pop-up exhibit for public viewing in the heart of NYC's Lower Eastside at Wallplay (118 Orchard St @ Delancy St) Feb 24 through March 4 from 11 AM - 7PM daily.
This is part of a yearlong exhibition that will visit various museums and art galleries which next travels to Washington D.C. on March 13th as part of the Partnership for a Healthier America's annual Summit to end childhood obesity. Cities to follow include: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami and more.