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Visitors to the grand opening of Malcolm McCrae's space in Bilderbach Art Plaza gaze at the airbrushed prints and canvases, taking in the colors and dreamily feathered textures. Beside the easels and artwork, there are stacks of blank hoodies, flatbill caps and T-shirts for custom work.
When a boy asks how much it would cost to put his name on a hat, McCrae is patient.
"Five bucks -- how much you got?" he asks.
About a dollar and change.
"All right, hang tight little man. You hang on to that and give me a second. I'll go see if I've got a cap or something upstairs that we can do," he says.
Malcolm McCrae, second from left, is surrounded by his protege, Edward Gordon, left, wife, Natalie, and his father, Bankole "Pops," Wednesday, Dec. 9. (Laura Simon)
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It would go against some of McCrae's deepest convictions to deny a child access to art over money.
And McCrae was around that age himself, growing up in Columbus, Ohio, when he realized art could be not only an expressive endeavor, but a lucrative one as well.
McCrae is a hip-looking artist in his mid-30s, and his largest pieces have price tags in the thousands. But he started out piping electricity for his airbrush kit with an extension cord from a house down the block.