Colors graze the walls of buildings. Letters are filled with creative strokes and value. Murals speak messages to passersby. Most of the time, only a spray can and skill is needed to create a masterpiece. The movement is none other than graffiti.
Graffiti art has moved from the streets and onto an exhibition, the first of its kind in the United States, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles.
Art in the Streets opened on April 17 at the Geffen Contemporary, with a kick off event that included several graffiti artists on the scene, performances by hip hop dancers and skate demonstrations from Nike SB crews.
“‘Art in the Streets’ will be the first exhibition to position the work of the most influential artists to emerge from street culture in the context of contemporary art history,” said Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA director and exhibit organizer, on the exposition’s website.
The display showcases artwork by 50 world-known artists from the graffiti and street art community, including Fab 5 Freddy from New York, Margaret Kilgallen from San Francisco, Shepard Fairey from Los Angeles, Os Gemeos from São Paulo, JR from Paris and others.
Some of the oddities at the exhibition include several vehicles covered in colorful graffiti that sit in the middle of rooms. Large walls, that used to be blank, have become murals of varying letter designs through a technique called “mobbing.” Color photographs of subways, trains and bridges that have been camouflaged with art and artists are hung on the snow-white walls of the gallery. Paintings with graphic design elements are introduced into street art.
The entire exposition devoted to an often-criticized art expands itself further than just viewing; the organizers have installed a learning experience about the street art movement.
A timeline, with photography and film media, about the movement is in place at the display.
Films, documentaries and text that embrace street art are also being commemorated at the Geffen Contemporary. Workshops about film depicting graffiti art are being provided by Levi’s, as a free learning experience for patrons.
Special sections are devoted to displaying cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture.
According to exhibition’s website, the focus is to accentuate the iconic art in Los Angeles, how it was evolved and its subcultures.
On May 14, the Geffen Contemporary will host its ninth annual Teen Night event, which opens the space exclusively for high school students. Participating students will be displaying their artwork at the special event as well.
Art in the Streets runs until August 8.