Monday, August 8, 2011

Art in the Street

Art in the Street

If you haven't had a chance in all these months to go to MOCA's Art in the Street exhibit that closes on Monday, man are you missing out some amazing street art and the history behind this otherwise primitive action of expressing yourself through art on a wall.

It really is an interesting look at a medium that you generally see as a marker of you driving in an area that you should lock your doors in. To that degree, it's actually pretty comical that it's so popular of an exhibit. You can thank the work of many artist who pushed the format to expressing their opinions in a slightly more creative way than just simply marking their turf.

Artist like shepard fairey and Banksy who have used their gorilla tactics of putting their art all over various countries. Which I guess the draw here is to finally see these forms of expression in one building.

Other than this, you would have to wait to see where the next Bansky piece would pop up and then assume no one who owned the building didn't just paint over it within the next day. I mean, I love Banksy's work. Who couldn't love a piece like this?

For those of you who thought they would be able to see this in other museums, you may not be in luck. Originally set to go to the Brooklyn Museum after its run in Los Angeles, which ends today, the Brooklyn Museum recently sent out this letter from the Museum Director Arnold Lehman:

I am writing with the unfortunate news the Brooklyn Museum must withdraw as the second venue for “Art in the Streets.” I asked our curator, Sharon Matt Atkins, for your email address so that you might hear this news directly from me.

As I hope you know, we have all been tremendously enthusiastic about this exhibition from the very beginning, and we applaud LA MOCA for organizing such a groundbreaking project bringing the important history of graffiti and street art to a broad public. In Brooklyn, we saw it as an appropriate next exhibition for us after our Jean-Michel Basquiat and graffiti exhibitions in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

We regret that we are now in the position of withdrawing from this project. We have already and will continue to face severe reductions in financial support that require the Museum to make very tough decisions in light of the challenges facing us in the coming fiscal year. With no major funding in place, we cannot move ahead.

I know I speak for Sharon as well in expressing our regret that we will not be able to move ahead with presenting “Art in the Streets.” We have the utmost respect for your work, and I hope we will find other opportunities to collaborate in the future.

It's really a shame that this seems like the only outlet that this exhibit will see. But the decision was not really surprising. It could have been a combination of a lot of factors including the museum being afraid of the show and the negative press that comes from encouraging and praising an illegal activity.

But I really can't think that anyone who wouldn't want to pay for this exhibit to see the history of something, even if it is illegal. It is part of history and the story behind it should be told.

But atlas, it seems that the negative opined pieces in the April editorial of the N.Y. Daily News that stated that "Museum mavens will be sticking their thumbs in the eyes of every bodega owner and restaurant manager who struggles to keep his or her property graffiti-free, not to mention the eyes of all New Yorkers who cringe recalling the days of graffiti-covered subway cars."

So that's even more reason to attempt to see this piece, even though this is the last day of the exhibit, you really don't have much excuse not to unless you have no time. Especially since Monday's are free for anyone. Thanks to Banksy, Monday's became a day that anyone, even those who would rather spend that $10 on a can of spray paint, can see this exhibit and see why exactly they are doing what they are and the history behind it.

But it's not all Banksy. The work of the late Rammellzee is also highligted here and is really a surreal experience to see it in the black light form that you would expect a sort of 1980's drug den would be all about.

So to have this piece highlighted may not be the major draw that the shepard fairey's OBEY and Banksy's social commentary. But it's a great nugget to see first hand. It's a lot of variety in the same medium. Hell, Spike Jonze had his own little projection room of his old videos. That in itself should be a selling point for this exhibit even if you aren't a former skater boarder.

But speaking for a moment about graffiti in all its form. While I have a strange stance it, given that I was once attacked stopping someone from tagging on my wall, I do see the artistic and expressive aspect of the art form.

I guess the issue with the above is that you could call it art if you call Spencer's gift T-shirt designs art. But you know what, I do. My walls are adorned with blacklight insane clown posse designs and posters with cartoon girls making out.

To be perfectly honest, I would argue that the second wall is more "Art" than the first. Know why? Because the first one was a series of random as fuck drawings. The second one is the expression of someone's feelings. That in itself puts a story behind it that you can get from it. And to be honest, if the tagger who was writing some stupid gang tag on my wall was writing some expression of oppression or some political message. Hell, even putting up an ironic art piece, I would have sat down and watched him carry that message out.

So I'll leave you with a few more pictures of the exhibit and say it was one great show.

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