DJ, musician, painter, cartoonist, muralist, and fine artist Tarif “Sheefy McFly” Turner is a Renaissance man for the modern era. The bold, graphic murals he has painted across Detroit’s urban canvas are rich in art history references, winking equally at Keith Haring’s dancers as they do Picasso’s misplaced Cubist faces.
Joyful, colorful, and full of movement, Sheefy’s art is meant, he says, to “creatively feed the community.” He adds, “I feel like I’m just having fun and finding my own style. The influences that led me into art originally, I pay homage to them when I show my influences.”
Gallery X Street
Just 31, Sheefy is an acclaimed emerging artist who is already straddling the gap between street art and gallery fame. Between his burgeoning career in music as a DJ and rapper and his painting, Sheefy is able to support himself as a fulltime maker, an artist who moves fluidly
from one medium to the next depending on his inspiration.“I’ll be focused on music for a few days or I’ll schedule some studio time and I’ll paint around that schedule,” he says, explaining how he balances his disciplines. “I’ve been doing it so long that they work together. I’ll have spurts when I have a song I want to do or some colors I want to get down.”
A discriminating cannabis user, Sheefy prefers indica flower strains for relaxation. Collaborating with our Hazel Park and Ann Arbor stores, Sheefy recently took the time to choose several indicas he particularly likes. We call them “Sheefy’s Picks,” including Punch Breath and Kosher Kush.
When Skymint was ready to open a dispensary in the Hazel Park area, asking Sheefy to create an art project that would creatively feed the neighborhood felt like a natural fit. Sheefy says that when he learned about Skymint’s Strains not Chains initiative, which strives to raise awareness about people of color being unfairly targeted for arrest, he realized that this was an activism he could really symbolize, and his thoughts went to Radio Raheem, a character from Spike Lee’s 1989 joint, Do the Right Thing.
“Radio Raheem is somebody in the community who was wrongfully done by the police and I tied it into the knuckle rings and the soulful monologue he gave,” Sheefy says. “Instead of the Love and Hate messages that Raheem had on his rings, it became Love and Peace. I used block colors and vivid lines so that you can get the feel of Radio Raheem.”
Detroit’s Art Legacy
That depth of thinking exemplifies Sheefy’s work. “I feel I was putting up knowledge so that residents can see,” he says. “I feel like I have an obligation to the Detroit art legacy to create something that will inspire others so that they see that they can do that, too.”
Particularly in the winter, Sheefy says he is glad to escape Michigan’s chill for warmer climes like Los Angeles and Miami, where he regularly hosts sell-out pop-up shows as well as civic mural projects. What’s different about the public art he produces away from home is that Turner feels he can relax a little. He doesn’t have to lead community; he can just make art.
“By doing murals in other cities it alleviates the idea of doing it for the city,” he says. “I can just have fun. When I’m away from home, I’m just an artist that nobody really knows about. Normally my work is a loose autobiography and a unique depiction of Detroit.”
Pausing thoughtfully, Sheefy adds, “The mystique of my hometown is my greatest inspiration.”
Stop by Skymint Hazel Park to see Sheefy McFly’s “Love and Peace” mural at 20940 John R Road. https://www.skymint.com/hazel-park/