FatCap recaps the best of the "Art in the Streets" exhibit, now open at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
No doubt, the "Art in the Streets" exhibit and opening events put smiles on kings, legends, OGs and new-school artists alike. As Jeffrey Deitch, the Director of the Museum of Contempary Art (MoCA) put it, it was a "special opportunity to celebrate remarkable innovations in New York and Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, listening to Deitch deliver the opening remarks was a sobering experience, and not nearly as exciting as the rest of the time spent at the museum. "Shake" and "Uncomfortable" are written in our moleskins from that moment. For someone who's role in the street art and graffiti community has constantly been questioned and challenged, particularly given the recent Blu catastrophe back in December, he did not quite seize the opportunity to stake his claim. This was particularly obvious when he spoke about LA artists' "sensibility" complimenting New York's wildstyle. It was tenuous, at best.
Blade by Rime
Ticket Booth by Os Gemeos
Part of the exhibit's timeline, a wall of spray paint available in the 1960's
However, Deitch did lay out very clearly the parameters by which we can judge him as a curator and evaluate the exhibit. He said the exhibit was not a "free for all" and that he, along with Roger Gastman (co-curator), had to make tough decisions about what and whom to include. The basic thesis for the exhibit was to highlight:
>> The rise of wildstyles and subway graffiti in New York
>> The adoption of the new art form in Los Angeles, and
>> It's transformation as it became intertwined with cholo, surf and skate cultures in Southern California.
Deitch and Gastman stated this very clear mission in the New York Times Magazine months ago, but last Thursday, Deitch appended one last sentence, something garbled like "...and how this has perpetuated internationally..." Ah. Ok. So this is why Banksy, Roa, Os Gemeos and JR are justified?
Saber's Wall with an impressive trompe l'oeil
Saber, Risk & Revok
These artists are some of the most talented, prolific and well known artists of our time, but in reality, they have no place alongside the pioneers of New York and Los Angeles, if we're following the three bullet points above. They do, however, have name recognition, and the curators do have a business to run. Banksy is a gateway drug to introduce the masses to the artists that really push this movement forward. If the crowds are going to come to the MoCA to see Banksy, but end up discovering 20 new artists, then maybe we can jump on board with the curatorial job.
Nonetheless, as we said, there were smiles on everyone's face and plenty of feel good moments. This was an exhibit designed for the larger population, to represent graffiti and street art to a more general art consumer, and to formalize the history in a way meant for the textbooks. You can see from Roger Gastman's introductory remarks that he gave credit to Taki 183 & Cornbread as being pioneers in graffiti, and when Aaron Rose called the event, "one of the most important moments in art in the 21st century" Fab 5 Freddy yelled from the crowd, "No question!", followed by Patti Astor's squeal, "Yeah, Fa-a-a-b!!"
Here are some more of our favorite shots from the exhibit:
A surprise in the ladies' bathroom by Andre.
Nike's Skate-able Installation by Lance Mountain and Geoff McFetridge (read more)
Spending time outside with Lee Quinone, Futura, Risk & Cern's wall, sticking it up, & finding Ket's Sketchbook.
Revok, Cern & Estevan Oriol (name badge)
So does the winner go to Jane Dickson for her t-shirt?