Beyond the Streets – a familiar sequel

Roger Gastman, curator and de facto historian of street art, came back with another huge production surveying the past and present of graffiti and street art called Beyond the Streets. For those that don’t know, Gastman’s lengthy CV include curating the monumental Art in the Streets (ahem, sound familiar?) exhibition at MOCA with Jeffrey Deitch and producing Banksy’s widely acclaimed mockumentary Exit through the Gift Shop.

Beyond the Streets should have been a home run, and I’m sure it brought in a lot of attendance and ticket sales. It took a proven formula from Art in the Streets and Exit through the Gift Shop by bringing in commercially successfully street artists from LA and New York and sprinkled in a bit of international fame from the likes of Banksy and Invader, and voila, you got an edgy urban art show fit for the LA Instagram models and hypebeasts.

Although there were brief references to the early figures of graffiti, such as Kenny Scharf, Futura 2000, and Chaz Bojorquez, heavy focus was on contemporary street art. Even Takashi Murakami and cohorts’ homage to graffiti makes an appearance, which I was confused about. If an artist uses spray paint does that make him a street artist? Murakami still brings crowds though. In that regard, Beyond the Street knew how to tap into the current zeitgeist of street art/urban art/neo contemporary urban/whatever kids are calling it these days. You can’t say zeitgeist without saying Banksy and Basquiat in the same sentence, so, of course, there was Banksy’s homage to Basquiat on display taking up a whole wall.

I probably sound bitter, because I think the show could have been so much more. It should have built on the success of street art as a respectable art genre, but this felt like a quick cash grab. The show had bit of flavor from anyone that’s a who’s who of street art, which is cool, but Gastman should have used the chance to highlight more up and coming artists. I didn’t come out of the show feeling like I learned something new or that street art had evolved since the seminal museum show at MOCA in 2011. That was almost a decade ago! Rather than pushing boundaries, the show was pandering and populist, produced to provide picturesque backdrops for that #doitforthegram. Art in the Streets was groundbreaking because it was the first time street art was being recognized as a genre that could stand toe to toe with blue chip contemporary art. This show tried the same formula but fell short in its ambition and scope.

Having said all that, I’m not mad at it. For a few bucks, street art aficionados of Los Angeles got to see all the heavy hitters of the genre in one place. There’s value in that.

The show came to an end this past weekend, so you can’t go see it anymore but below are some highlights from when I visited back in July. Enjoy!

– Los Angeles, CA

Barry McGee: SB Mid Summer Intensive @ MCASB

On July 1st, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara opened a new solo exhibition from Barry McGee for the summer. I have to say Barry’s shows never disappoint. This specific installation by the San Francisco artist fills the entire museum which is basically one large room and it’s a sensory overload of paintings, sculptures, photos, and personal ephemera of the artist. The attention to detail in each work and the seeming chaos of how the individual works are paired together create new experiences with each run through the floor.

As they say, a picture says a thousand words, so I’ll shut up now and put up my pictures.  Enjoy!

The show closes on October 14th, so if you’re in the area, it’s a must-see.

– Santa Barbara, CA

Street Snaps – Os Gemeos in Los Feliz, Los Angeles

When I moved out to Los Feliz beginning of this year, I heard rumors that the Brazilian writers Os Gemeos had painted a small wall here years ago. I could find pictures of small sections of the wall scattered through the Internet, but never found the actual location. Today, I hopped on my bike and rode around the areas that I suspected this wall could be and voila, I found it! One of the best feelings ever when I caught a glimpse over my shoulder of this white washed wall with what looked liked painted figures from afar.

Here is my gift to the street art world on the Internet of these cool little gems.

– Los Angeles, CA

Awol Erizku & Isabel Yellin @ Night Gallery

Hidden away amongst old industrial complexes in the outskirts of Downtown Los Angeles, there is a cool little space called Night Gallery (@nightgallery) that is currently exhibiting two up-and-coming artists, Awol Erizku and Isabel Yellin. If you drive past a strip club on Washington Blvd, then drive through the small alley behind it, you’ll arrive at the gallery through a small opening in the parking lot fence. Yes, it sounds sketchy. Yes, it’s safe.

In my day job I work in one of those industrial factories in the area, but even I would have never guessed a bona fide art gallery existed around here. LA is so confusing sometimes.

Awol Erizku

Erizku (@awolerizku), a Los Angeles-based artist, primarily gained his notoriety as a photographer, many of his subjects being young and famous rappers and artists themselves. Although he disdains being known as the “Beyonce portrait photographer”, his fame catapulted earlier this year when Beyonce posted a photo on Instagram of her pregnant self in front of a large ring of flowers, announcing that she is expecting twins. That photo quickly became the most liked picture on Instagram EVER within a few hours.

In his latest show with Night Gallery titled Menace II Society, Erizku explores police brutality (#fucktwelve), race identity, and female empowerment through the lens of popular culture. I’m always drawn to the in-your-face, pop culture driven, subversive visual art, so Erizku fits the bill perfectly.

Isabel Yellin

Inhuman, uncomfortable, confusing, sensual, and sexual. Those are the words that entered my mind when looking at this amorphous body of works by Isabel Yellin (@isayell) exhibiting alongside Erizku in the same space. Titled It’ll Come, the shapes and materials used in these sculptures inform the range of emotions that viewers experience.

For example, the black, shiny latex material evoke images of a violent sexual act, while the conjoined pale-fleshed figures on the wall confound yet bring forth warmth, like two sisters holding hands and walking down the street.

Overall, it’s a weird experience standing between the figures, but I found myself coming back to look at them several times. I’m sure you’ve all experienced not being able to look away after playing those pimple popping videos on YouTube. It’s gross and fascinating at the same damn time!

The two shows run until October 7.

Night gallery is located at 2276 E Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90021.

– Los Angeles, CA

Street Snaps: Invader on Paris Streets

While roaming Paris streets, you cannot turn a corner without finding Invader’s (@invaderwashere) mark on the city. From invasions of more recent years, you can clearly tell that Invader grew bolder and more ambitious, both in size and in visibility. Whereas in 2000 you’d see small invasions that required concentrated effort to find it, by 2009 pieces grew enormous and invaded prominent street corners.

Of course, copycats are abound in the city, but it isn’t too hard to tell the real deal from the fakes based on quality of the work from cheap tiles to not so geometric arrangements. If you think you might be fooled, it’s easy to use Flash Invaders to confirm.

Between myself and my travel buddy, we had a ton of fun trying to see who could find the most invasions. Below are some of my favorites that we found.

PA_1100>2014>50 Points – This John Hamon guy was everywhere in the city too.  Seems he’s some kind of guerrilla artist himself.

PA_360>2000>10 Points

PA_800>2009>50 Points

PA_1161>2015>30 Points

PA_769>2009>50 Points

PA_1127>2014>50 Points

PA_1030>2012>50 Points

PA_682>2006>30 Points

PA_878>2011>20 Points

– Paris, France