Jay Maxwell

Trea’Sure Prince | March 22nd, 2021
Jay Maxwell (Photos by Keisha Heggie)

Jay Maxwell (Photos by Keisha Heggie)

Jay Maxwell, also known as Meantime Max, was born in Newark, New Jersey to a creative household. He later moved to Greensboro, N.C., and attended James B. Dudley High School. After graduation, Maxwell went on to attend Winston Salem Barber College and obtained his professional barber’s license. He eventually became a successful barber in the triad area.

Maxwell was the youngest of three and has two older brothers. He was raised by a single mother and stated that his mother did her absolute best to make sure that she would raise strong black men, even if she had to do it alone. “My creativity was inspired by “school-teacher mother,” he shares. “She has always been artistic, and her gift eventually rubbed off on me.” To keep him busy, Maxwell’s mother allowed him to assist with creating bulletin boards which ignited his passion for a larger scale of art.

Other than seeing his mother taking art courses in college when he was younger, Maxwell hasn’t had any former training but has always been passionate about street art and graffiti. Unfortunately, his interest led to some trouble and mischief. As a teenager, he was charged for painting the wall of a local grocer, Winn-Dixie. After that, he decided to put a stop to it. After his break from street art and graffiti, he evolved to draw and create mixtape covers for other artist and musicians. He also created flyers for a rap group of which he was a member of at the time. Life would happen and he stopped painting graffiti and street art. Then something horrific happened in our country that would inspire artists from all walks of life to become involved.

After hearing the news of George Floyd’s murder, a black man who was killed at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, MN, the country responded with swift anger and emotions. Many businesses, including those in Maxwell’s home of Greensboro boarded up their business out of fear of being damaged by vandalism. Turns out, that many of these infractions weren’t being committed by the protesters who marched in peace in response to the killing of Floyd. But instead, were being carried out by criminals.

The city started allowing local people to paint on the plywood boards. While taking his daughter to go painting, Maxwell noticed there just were not enough black artists out there participating. So, he got busy and soon many of his works dawned the building of downtown Greensboro. Later the city of Greensboro established a Street Mural Program. It was a huge accomplishment for him to be invited to participate in the “One Love” project in downtown Greensboro. Artists painted “One Love” on Davie Street. Here, he met a lot of the big-time artists who were in town to contribute to this unified cause.

Maxwell has a variety of artwork that he does. His artwork ranges from graffiti and wall murals to canvases and poetry. Mainly his creative energies lead him to create large street art. He described his creativity as “a free bird flying.” “This comparison may be cliché but, it is accurate.”

It is also important to Maxwell to produce pieces that are purposeful. “I did not want my artistry to be put into a box. I enjoy how random they can be, as well as the freedom of expression my artwork provides,” he says. In his pieces, he also wanted to stop making black men look like victims. Maxwell stated, “I wanted to give black men their power back.”

One of his most memorable experiences or works came about a year ago when he lost a good friend of his. Maxwell decided that he wanted to make him into what seemed to be a “black superman” like figure. This piece was very emotional for him, so emotional in fact that he had to stop and take breaks to help keep himself maintained. He also wanted to make sure that he got this particular piece done exactly right. It was done such as it should be, and the finished work has been applauded by onlookers and friends of his deceased friend.

So, what lies in the future for Mr. Jay, “Meantime Max” Maxwell? He plans to use the art to catapult other projects that he has been working on, and he would like to continue selling more canvases. As of right now, Jay Maxwell is continuing to pursue his passion for art. He is also a local barber who owns a barber shop and has been working on producing music. “Meantime Max” is simply a jack of all trades.

If you would like to support artist Jay Maxwell, he uses Shopify, but he accepts direct messages on Instagram where he goes by the handle “MeantimeMax” for serious inquiries.

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