If you love serious writing and street art, you should most definitely look into the work of G. James Daichendt. I’ve been following his scholarship on street art for some time now and I’ve noticed how much street artists appreciate their work being assessed under a different lens. While Daichendt acknowledges that vandalism and illegality can be natural parts of street art, he focuses more on what street art adds to our society as a whole. Daichendt recently gave a TEDx talk in which he explored the important of street art, especially in relation to visual art’s history. There are some really great points here and I was especially struck by the following diagram: A lot of times people will debate the merits of street art not just because of its illegality but also because of its aesthetic. This diagram definitely makes for an interesting conversation starter (or debate point, so keep it in your pocket!). Also I loved the idea of looking at street art that happens on a smaller scale — something I definitely don’t do enough. As Daichendt puts it, “it doesn’t always have to be big. It’s about perspective. It could be very small to have that kind of impact.” This isn’t the first TED talk on street art. Back in 2011, for example, JR gave an official TED talk on his work. But this one touches nicely upon the more universal nature of street art and why we should all care. “Think about what street art is doing. They’re bringing art to the people. And they’re fundamentally changing the way we engage the visual arts.” What are your thoughts on the talk? Any ideas for the next great street art TED talk?
Zio Ziegler spotted in the Outer Sunset. Such a cool mix of color and pattern.
In San Francisco, you better hold on when you get on the bus. The announcement over the speakers tells you so and a kind stranger might warn you, too but if you don’t heed those warnings you’ll learn your lesson soon enough. When the bus goes lurching forward, it makes even the most talented skaters and gymnasts (who else has great balance?) judge their abilities. Basically, you might go flying forward into the dashboard or head-first into someone’s groceries.
But the magical part of riding public transportation here — at least from an LA native’s perspective — is how easily it can get you almost anywhere. So long as you hold on tight. In LA, I stumbled upon street art while driving. But after two years of not driving, I realize the value of finding public art while stepping off the bus or just walking.
Apologies for the long break (again). Here are some of my recent (and not-so-recent) favorites from around the city:
Nychos in the Tenderloin (or TenderNob as the locals call it). The word ‘gnarly’ comes to mind.
Clever Eclair Bandersnatch piece in the Mission.
One of many awesome pieces in Clarion Alley in the mission. Artist unknown (any leads?).
It’s been a year since I moved to San Francisco! Compared to LA, this city is colder (duh). It’s much easier to get around without a car. Everyone on the street seems to walk faster, at least in Downtown.
Oh, that’s the other thing – each neighborhood has it’s own personality. This city often feels like a crayon box – all the crayons might be right next to each other but they are definitely not the same color.
Speaking of color, I recently got to check out “A Declaration of Color” at 1AMSF. It’s a fantastic solo show by the street artist Sen2. The artist is originally from Puerto Rico and he got to see NY during the glory days of the ’80s. That exposure to the graffiti world led him to the success he’s found today. Besides being an awesome artist, he’s worked with famous people like Missy Elliot and Nas.
Check the show out for yourself:
It’s official. I’m leaving Los Angeles.
A part of me still doesn’t quite believe it but if all goes well come August I will be in the crazy, colorful city that is San Francisco.
I visited during the weekend and didn’t quite keep an eye out for street art but a couple of pieces found me. I’m interested in the difference between the art scenes of LA and SF — especially the street and public art scenes. I’m excited to find out. I have high standard for you, San Francisco!
On another note, I’m getting quite addicted to traveling and seeing new places. So hopefully this blog will grow to show even MORE places that make the world feel like a canvas.
This past weekend, I got up bright and early to help ForYourArt with their show and event centering around “The Clock.” Basically, for twenty-four hours (yup, a whole day from noon to noon) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art screened Christian Marclary’s film “The Clock” and ForYourArt added free donuts and a cool show.
Any artist that wanted to participate could pick up a snazzy clock from ForYourArt and then give it their own spin for inclusion in the show. The clock then went on sale for $99. That means anyone could show their work and possibly have someone take it home.
The amount of different takes on the clock made the show worth seeing. Some completely gutted their clock, leaving only plastic and un-ticking hands while one participant kept the clock complete with its box and only added text (talk about ready made). Some clocks referenced pop culture/current events but a lot just sprang from the imagination of these talented artists.
Some of which – drum roll – were well-known street artists. I caught photos of the works from street artists still up on the walls. It’s a different sort of canvas for these street art mavens usually posting around the city but their style stayed distinct. Check out work from Louis Cannizzaro, 2wenty, Annie Preece and Gregory Siff.
Louis’ piece above is easily recognizable because of the text and signature handwriting. It’s interest that he just layers the paint on with thick brushstrokes so as to obstruct most of the clock. You shouldn’t be thinking of time. You should be thinking about that mystery lover.
I admired the works that took only parts of the clock because that meant really tearing into the material to come up with something new. The artists’ personality really shines through but we still get a small hint of a clock with the hands. I’ve never taken apart a clock before but I’m glad the result is so beautiful.
Preece’s work had a title that was something like ‘old man’ which you can tell from the large face covering the clock. It’s light-hearted like Preece’s art tends to be but still separates her clock from the other ones in the room. For one, the face is only a few lines but it’s somehow a face that intrigues. Who is this old man? Why is his face on a clock?
Siff also only had to use a few lines to give away his style with this glitzy clock. It’s an LA piece on the surface but could be a deeper commentary at its core. How much of our time does Hollywood take up in one form or another? We can’t tell because the face and hands of the clock are gone. All we see now is gold.
As oftentimes happens, I leave my camera at home right when I find something good.
This particular time, that special something was a piece from French graffiti artist TILT. He stands as a good example of the thriving street art scene in France which is just as happening as the one here in LA.
TILT employs a really cool technique in which he uses bubble letters – the stylizing of letters seen in a lot of old-school graffiti writing in New York, Los Angeles and other parts of the world – to create different shapes. Sometimes you can read them so they mean something, sometimes they don’t. They might shape something familiar, like this star, but it takes more work to decipher the letter or words hidden within. Can you spot ‘Los Angeles’ spelled out in this one?
At his show in Fabien Castanier in Studio City last year, he took the theme of American Food and gave it his own twist. “All You Can Eat” transformed the gallery into a visual feast with giant hot dogs and hamburgers made up of the bubbly letters. It was a great merging between gallery and street art not only because of the giant pieces that still held an urban, edgy feel but because of the videos TILT included. In those, you could see a white wall transformed into all-black by TILT’s spray can gracefully forming a number a number of shapes or a black wall turned into all white through the same process. It was a simple but strong statement about the power of one spray can paint color to transform an entire wall.
When I bumped into this piece in LA, it reminded me of the ongoing magnitude of street art. TILT’s site names a long list of places where the artist traveled to explore and “leave his mark.” The artist left the States after his show closed but thankfully he left this token behind for Angelenos – a reminder that street art really does use the world as its canvas.
I took ONE real day off last week and drove down to Santa Barbara intending to walk around, shop, and eat.
And then some street art found me. Like it always does.
Walking close to the pier, I stumbled upon walls on walls of murals, which I found out belonged to Funk Zone, an organization that bills itself as a “unique arts, business and industrial district.”
I can attest to the arts part. I ended up taking photo after photo of these super cool murals. They were obviously given the space legally as they were detailed and well thought-out.
The one that impressed me the most was this one from artist Lincoln Liechti.
The colors automatically called out to me and when I got closer, the detail impressed me even more.
There were these little goofy, cartoon characters everywhere! Like when you see a bunch of frenzied, black ants climbing up a tree trunk. They all had at least slightly different facial expressions which made them tons of fun to look at. I could’ve stood there for hours but instead I took pictures to save for later. The artist seems like a really young guy which makes me even happier because it’s when you give space and free reign to young, creative minds that you get the next generation’s crop of fantastic artists. Here’s to stumbling upon awesomely unexpected.
Ok. So. Last time I posted I was asking if YOU were out there. If you were reading.
That was mid-year 2012 and we’re in 2013. So, actually, I have to prove that I’M still here. I haven’t posted in a veryyyyy long time but I hope don’t think that’s because I grew out of my love for street art and decided to stop writing. Preposterous. It’s actually the opposite – I started writing SO much more, started meeting a lot of artists and snapped enough photos that I had to purchase a new SD card with more memory capacity.
So why haven’t I been sharing any of this with you?? Mmm I don’t have an answer besides the semi-pathetic but still-true excuse that there’s not enough time in the day. But it’s better late than never right?
I’m not trying to brag and say I’m a seasoned writer and street art expert but I am SO grateful to have met a lot of really great people and stumbled across many pieces in the span of 2012. It’s ridiculous how I moved from writing a few occasional art show reviews for a school paper to branching out into other outlets in the publishing world and discovering more art. Any weekend I’m not at a gallery opening, I feel strange.
I could post plenty of photos from gallery shows – which I will, I promise – but a certain set of photos puts my point across better I think. As I photographed and wrote about more and more shows, I always kept in the back of my mind where I’m from and why street art first called to me.
If you drive near my place of residence you see plenty of trash. You see broken sidewalks. You hear sirens. This isn’t a sappy, pity-me scene. It’s reality. That’s where I’m from and I’m grateful to have grown up in a less-than-aesthetically-beautiful neighborhood that shaped me to be a loving person and a tough woman at the same time.
But when you walk on those cracked streets you can also find art when you look more closely. Yes, sometimes I encounter art pieces when I’m driving, not just aimlessly wandering, but the fact that I found art pieces in the middle of a neighborhood where you can’t find a gallery for miles is something that fueled my love for street art.
I was working on a project for a photography class and a friend suggested we visit an alleyway where he discovered art.
There, we took the photos I needed and then just wandered around the alley. It wasn’t a pretty sight, believe me – a pair of broken heels, a dirty Q-tip, a torn bed – but the art showed someone’s genuine efforts for creativity.
I recently watched the movie “Beautiful Losers” which follows well-known, successful artists like Shepard Fairey and Barry McGee and how they started. Basically, friends got together and started a small gallery in NY which was one big party. But they all stressed the idea of a need to create – a very human, automatic instinct to just MAKE something.
The movie got me itching to create and I wondered how that idea changed from NY to here in California and in a neighborhood with residents that perhaps can’t spend tons of money on art supplies or even known of a gallery to visit. I felt frustrated at the idea that in my neighborhood I couldn’t name one person that made art; I don’t remember it seeing hanging on the walls of my babysitter’s house or even a family member’s place. I remembered that not until I went to private high school was art something that truly mattered. Even then, I didn’t feel the need to create – I learned to be careful where I walked, to work hard so I could make my parents proud and one day move my mom out of her house in a dangerous city. I didn’t learn to want to create; I didn’t learn to value and love art.
Ultimately, I found art in the streets. It was there to make me learn to love and praise art and the process of creating. It was there to inspire me to make little pieces of art in my room, to walk into Blick with no clue about spray paint and pick random cans in weird colors.
I owe a lot to street art. Though I’ve met well-known artists and told them my love for their work it’s the nameless figures who created the art around my streets that I want to say thank you to the most. “Beautiful Losers” made me want to create and it reminded me that while the gallery holds art, the streets hold the people that inspire me to create freely, openly and without worrying about impressing anyone. Just creating.
I can’t believe it’s been two months since I last posted. TWO MONTHS.
Well, the reason I’m here is a complete stranger mentioned he was a fan on Twitter.
I didn’t think anyone was reading anymore, I figured the blog – after not being updated in FOREVER (well, not literally) had just been forgotten.
Did you read that in a melodramatic voice? Because you definitely should’ve. Try it.
Anyway, huge shout-out to http://staatic.tumblr.com for inspiring this post.
It’s my last weekend in my hometown for a bit as I’ll be shipping off to NY soon and the above kind stranger hinted at the idea of an NY edition of this blog.
So without further ado, come this weekend I’ll snap pictures of any street art of street art-related material and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
While I’m gone there’s a few art shows still running, and soon opening, that I think you should check out (and that are somehow street art-related).
1. Colin Christian and RISK
Why: RISK is a legendary street art and graffiti name. And most of the pieces up at the gallery, as part of his “Old Habits Die Hard” show are done in neon. How much more convincing do you need? There’s also a random surprise upstairs that you can’t miss (literally). A lot of these works were also in a private, invite-only event where the works were inside someone’s home. Can’t get any cooler than that.
On the non-street-art end, Colin Christian giant plexiglass female statues will definitely catch your eye and maybe steal your heart.
Where: Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City. Plenty of street parking and also restaurants and a movie theater nearby.
When: Runs until Aug. 4
2. Saber and Revok
WHY: Saber and Revok are also two very big names in the world of street art and graffiti. It’s a worn subject matter, but it really IS interesting to see the works of these mostly outdoor artists manifest themselves in the gallery’s white walls. I previously covered Zes and Retna’s show in the same locale and it was interesting to see the shift from large murals to pieces that meshed with the walls.
Where: Known Gallery on Fairfax not too far from Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. It’s a nice few blocks of culture – there is the SUPREME store right next door. I also stumbled upon Odd Future’s pop-up shop nearby and apparently one of the kids that skateboarded across the street during a green light was a part of the crew. The Hundreds is nearby, too. Keep an eye out for plenty of street art on the sidewalks, walls and light poles.
When: Show opens July 28 at 8 p.m. and runs until August 11. Check out more information on the gallery’s site.
3. Ego Leonard
WHY: I had trouble first researching him and finding out just what KIND of artist he was – sculptor? some talk about being a guerilla artist? – but the second you drop off a giant LEGO man on an otherwise calm shore of Topanga State beach, you’re a street artist in my book. Visit the show to see the giant LEGO man himself and also check out paintings with plenty of LEGO people. There’s humor in plenty of the pieces but I got philosophical for a bit – are we really just as interchangeable and easily molded as LEGOs?
Where: LabArt, the biggest street art gallery in Los Angeles. Also in a great cultural area. If you’re a date take her/him to Cafe Verona next door and the love (/whatever else you are searching for) odds will be in your favor.
When: Show runs until Aug. 5th
Good things come in three, right? For my purposes, they do. Hope you like the post and I’ll try my best to snap photos in NY! And hopefully I can look as happy as this guy when I’m sitting scared out of my mind inside the plane. Here’s to more street art adventures!
So I decided to dig up some of my old pictures and found one by the artist named Zombie.
Sorry to disappoint, but this post has nothing to do with the recent story about a man eating someone’s face off – or the subsequent jokes/fears that this equals the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.
I’m talking about a street artist who’s known for an image called ‘Future Jesus’ and whose name doesn’t come from the classic idea of a zombie. The artist doesn’t have passionate feelings about his moniker but attributes it to the feeling he gets roaming the streets at night posting up his art.
I ran into this piece during the daylight – and free from any flesh-eating creatures – and fell in love with it right away.
Despite the buzz being about his Jesus figure, I love this chick. She just popped into my line of vision as I rounded the corner. I love the details of her hair and shirt and I realized some of it was coming off the wall. It was one of the first times I encountered a paper-based piece on the street and out of curiosity I touched an edge that was coming off. The paper was pretty thick and also really dirty from being on the wall – something I found fascinating instead of gross. Who knows how the long the piece was there – or if it’s still there today – but one night someone came out here and put it up for everyone to see.
Thus, I conclude that Zombie and his street art counterparts are the best version of the zombie figure out there. And lucky for us, it doesn’t equal an upcoming apocalypse.