With the first major exhibition of street art in the USA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is leading the way for the rather ironic movement of placing graffiti in sterile environments (ok, maybe not sterile, but compared to the warehouses and train tracks of traditional graffiti "galleries," the white wall space of museums and art venues is comparably cleaner and hospital-like.)
This brings up the question, does street art belong in a gallery or museum? In some ways it seems to go against everything that makes it what it is -- undercover, for the people, and raw.
And that brings us to my visit yesterday.
Having been sponsored as a free day for anyone to visit, the "Art in the Streets" exhibit was THE most crowded museum exhibit I have ever been to (aside from opening receptions, etc.) There was a constant flow of visitors coming in the door and you often had to wait your turn to view a particular piece of art. (See the YouTube video we filmed while there for an idea of the crowds.)
It was a nicely installed show, with a good assortment of wall art, framed works, installations resembling graffiti studios, sculpture works and objects, and an illustrated timeline. Some of the works are photographed below.
My favorite aspect was that even the women's bathroom had been graffiti-bombed in bubble-gum pink with black outlines spelling the name "Annabelle!" It was striking that the restrooms were so clean, yet had the marks of spray paint. The most humorous part of the exhibit, to me, was the gift store -- it was so popular that a guard had to be placed at the door to keep the numbers of people inside down to fire-code quantities. I guess "exit through the gift shop" took on a very literal meaning for some. ;)
The exhibit will be up until August 8, 2011 with every Monday from now on sponsored with free admission for all (if you're driving, you will still have to pay $8 to park -- hey, it's LA!)
|From the Banksy exhibit|
|Craig R. Stecyk III display|
|Visual Overture editor Arlissa Vaughn with Kenny Scharf mural|
|Wall of Shepard Fairey art|
|Not sure which artist this was, but note the interesting comparison to ancient Grecian pottery|