Monday, June 13, 2011

Art in the Streets at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles

Over the weekend, I got a chance to check out the “Art in the Streets” exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles.  It was one of the most fascinating exhibits I have ever seen, not only because I am an artist and have always wanted to be THAT good at drawing and painting, but also because it outlines the history of urban culture and graffiti art throughout the world.  Upon approaching the exhibit outside, there are several street artists completing works on canvas, and you can see the process at work.  If you want to photograph this exhibition, they allow cameras but no flash.  I totally should have brought my fisheye lens, because I did not anticipate the magnitude of some of the works on display.  Very big and downright awesome.  One of my favorites was a giant “LA” wall done by Mister Cartoon.  Not only is he a graffiti artist, but he’s a successful tattoo artist who has inked the likes of recording artists such as Eminem, Dr. Dre,  Travis Barker, and Cypress Hill.  There is a wall of photos of some of his work as well, chronicling the East L.A gang life, which also make up a majority of his clientele.  I think I’m going to have to hit up Mister Cartoon for my next tattoo!  Also featured is Shepard Fairey, the guy who did the original Obama poster image before it was hijacked and turned into the famous "Hope" poster.  He is also the guy behind the ubiquitous "Obey" posters featuring the face of Andre the Giant.

Every artist showcased has his or her own particular style, and I loved walking through this exhibit because it reminded me of how I used to like to draw block letters and color them in as a kid.  I never had formal art lessons, and it still amazes to see the final products of spray paint on walls, and markers on paper.  I sometimes just want to observe the works being made to see the techniques used.  I think art and graffiti is all about the process, and that’s what intrigues me the most about this stuff. 

YouTube idea:  If you’re an up and coming band or something, go with your bandmates and bring along a video camera.  There is an exhibit there with painted instruments – a drum set, a guitar, and a bass.  They’re all playable, and I thought it would be cool if some people got together, played a few songs, and looked cool.  I’ve seen some pretty unique YouTube videos of bands (most notably of Atomic Tom playing iPod touch instruments on a New York subway), and if I had a band, I would totally want to do it – although it’s possible you could be sued by the artist.  There is a possibility that they want the exposure, hence made the instruments playable in the first place.  Anyway, go check it out.  I would recommend going to the Levi’s Film Workshop while inside.  It’s an interactive section where you can create stop motion movies, animated drawings, and much more.  I guarantee that you will be inspired and educated, and possibly want to go tag on some walls or get some tattoos.


Poetic, no? 
Me admiring Jean-Michel Basquiat's giant Blondie painting.

I don't know how those security people stand there all day. 

They even replicated the streets where tagging is rampant.  Here is Chanda chillin' with a bum and his monkey.

Mister Cartoon's ice cream truck.  How gangster is that?

Glow in the dark paint is awesome.

Ever get the feeling someone is eyeballin' you?

Something is definitely eyeballin' me!

Interactive art is awesome.

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