As you walk up the stairs to the second floor of LBMA (@lbmaorg) to continue your tour of “Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape“, the first piece you will encounter is an untitled installation by Meggs (@houseofmeggs) of a familiar gun range target character bursting out the wall as if he had just shot a bullet through it. If you look closely at the wall in person, you can see where Meggs plastered the wall to create this effect. If you walk behind this wall, you will meet the gunman in full view, except now you will notice that he is in fact NOT holding a gun, but rather a spray can. This is a huge distinction that I did not catch the first time I visited.
“Art in the Streets” at MOCA, The Geffen Contemporary, in 2011 saw the beginning of museums opening their walls and exhibition space to the burgeoning street art community. The who’s who of the international street art scene were present at that show, past and current. We’re talking Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Kaws, Retna, Futura, Lee, Fab 5 Freddy, Os Gemeos, Barry McGee, Steve Espo Powers, Todd Reas James, Neckface, and these are just the artists off the top my head. “Vitality and Verve” seem to be looking to tap this niche as well.
We start off exactly where we left off last time, in Long Beach, CA. I will admit that most of the artists below are new to me, but that is why events like Pow! Wow! Long Beach are so valuable to expand your horizon of artists that you were unfamiliar with prior.
Street art purists bemoan the loss of ephemerality of sanctioned walls, that it no longer requires artists to employ stealth, speed, and creativity to complete a mural all while dodging law enforcement, and that it loses its impact of unexpectedly running into a powerful image in the street that wasn’t there the night before. I can agree with that. However, I think there’s still room for community participation in street art that invites casual observers to dive in headfirst to naturally grow the movement.