Posts from the ‘graffiti’ Category
RETNA talks about how the illegal roots of graffiti make contemporary art/murals/graf both a difficult and beautiful topic. El Mac talks about how their work is less ego based than traditional graffiti. RETNA encourages people to interact with their communities artistically, stop complaining, and be constructive. El Mac talks about how when people look at art it shows them there is more to life than survival. And if you’re just trying to get by you don’t have time for art. How everyone deserves art in their community. This last statement reminded me of JR’s Ted Talk. He spoke about a conversation a few locals, I think in Africa, were having about his art. They were trying to figure out the point of it. He sets it up for it to seem like maybe art doesn’t have a place in poverty stricken areas? And then JR describes how one guy looks to the others and says something like, “Don’t you realize that this whole time we’ve been talking about art you haven’t thought about where you are going to get your next meal. That is the point of art.” Art belongs everywhere, it’s part of the human experience. It’s necessary.
From I Am Los Angeles:
Wherever they go, they try to make something that makes sense for the neighborhood, and the community. And they always make something positive, something the artists hope people can enjoy — regardless of whether life has greeted them with great fortune. Armed with a vision and their cans of spray paint, El Mac and Retna will transform a forgotten wall into a piece of art.
El Mac and Retna are street artists, born in LA. They use building walls as blank canvases for their imagery, and the duo has collaborated to create murals all over the world. El Mac and Renta have very different styles, and have been collaborating the last few years. They combine their artistic forces in a specific way: El Mac creates huge lifelike portraits and Retna, calligraphic brushwork and decoration. The result is striking imagery that is unique and recognizable as theirs. It’s not uncommon for street art fans and documentarians to gather to watch the progression of an El Mac and Retna work in progress.
El Mac and Retna art feels appropriate for the street because the artists themselves embrace the city streets, the different neighborhoods, and the blend of cultures and backgrounds of the people that fill them. Street art, including the work of El Mac and Retna, also reflects a new attitude about accessibility to art in our environments. “Why not see all the walls painted,” says Retna. “Let the Arts Roam!”
As soon as JR put his piece up on the MOCA accross from Little Toyko/Arts District Station in Downtown LA people put up tags, stickers, and throw-ups. Some complained, but I think that JR would have said something like, “Once I put a piece of art up in a community it belongs to the community. If someone wants to tear it, scratch it, or draw on it, that’s up to them,” so to me, in a way, the people that fucked with JR’s piece on the MOCA got it exactly right. JR’s not mad, why are you?
Anyway, the last time I was at the train station, I noticed a crew of people, buffing JR’s piece! OMG, it’s so po-mo I want to puke. Somebody should put a piece over JR’s, leave it for a week, and then buff the JR. They sure did a good job restoring the original piece though. It looks even sharper than the day it was put up!
Culture is a (mostly) human capacity to exchange symbolic experiences. For human’s to exchange symbols they have to create them. It is natural for humans to create. We create new experiences by absorbing other experiences and reinterpreting, recreating, them. Society should be structured in a way that allows humans to be at their greatest potential, to be their most creative. Today, there are many things that oppress humans from their potential. I’m not going to talk about any of them. I don’t know exactly how this fits in to JR. But here is a different JR piece with a before and after.
I love trains. Way more than buses. Access to LA Metro train lines is one of the reasons I live downtown. Even when I’m bikeless, like right now, I can still get to lots of places. The last time I took the train I was going to the Flying Pigeon bike shop in Highland Park. I had my camera on me and I took a couple snaps.
Click the photos for more photos. Enjoy!
It’s rare for me to be in a car. When I am I take the time to look at the things I don’t usually get to see. Think about it, you’d be surprised how much you can and cannot see based on your mode of transportation. When I bike I hear the crazy church songs, especially along Olympic and Pico at night. In a car you get to see the graffiti on the highways and tops of buildings. Highways offer a completely different way to look at the city. Trains are the same way.
I took these next photos in November 2010 and never really did anything with them. They were experiments. My only rule is that I had to be waiting for a train or on one to take a photo. I briefly road the Gold, Blue, and Red lines, documenting as I went along.
Nearly every big American city has a “Broadway.” I explored and documented my city’s Broadway from 1st street to Century (100th street).
Barbara Black owns a fence in NoHo. She commissioned young local artists to paint it. Then the city fined her $336 for violating the LA Building & Safety’s “advertising signage” code. WTF?!
North Hollywood resident Barbara Black finds herself in the middle of a dispute with the City of Los Angeles over her 90-foot fence that she decided to make into a mural. Barbara wanted to give upcoming North Hollywood Graffiti artists a canvas to show their art and to help the students feel a sense of pride and dignity for themselves and this art form. The principal at North Hollywood High School helped her find 10 students who were good Graffiti artists and very enthusiastic about the project.
For a month these students worked on the mural and were almost finished when Barbara received a citation from the City of Los Angeles for violating Building & Safety’s “advertising signage” codes. The City considers this mural an advertisement, NOT ART. There is no Coca-Cola ad, no iTunes ad, no Nike ad, no ad whatsoever on this mural. So why then does the City consider this advertising? What, in fact, is it advertising? Isn’t this her property?
Barbara was slapped with a $336 fine and the mural must be removed by March 24 or she will face other penalties up to $1,900 if she tries to appeal and fight to keep the mural up. The City wants her to paint over the art with white paint prior to March 24 but she will still be forced to pay the $336 fine as punishment for putting up the mural in the first place.
However, Barbara is on a fixed-income and can’t afford to pay the fine much less fight “City Hall.” For several decades, she was a costume illustrator for film/TV but now lives modestly as an artist. Barbara is just trying to encourage an art form and, most importantly, to give a few local North Hollywood kids an opportunity to feel good about themselves and their art.
This brings us to the second, much larger issue at hand: Graffiti ART as an art form. Graffiti has been synonymous with vandalism but Graffiti Art is simply a style of art. Not everyone gets it. Not everyone appreciates its aesthetic. The actual practice of Graffiti goes back to the Mayans, but it was not thought of as an art form until the 1970s when the art world saw the work on the New York subways. The Graffiti Art movement produced such famous artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and this street art influenced Bansky, Shepard Fairey and countless others. If Graffiti Art is not your taste, that’s fine. But, it should not be disqualified as an art style.
So Barbara’s mural was not an act of vandalism but a commissioned piece of Graffiti Art. Across the street from Barbara’s mural you will see another mural that was painted several years ago but was never cited by the City. Guess what, it isn’t Graffiti Art. Can we believe that this is happening because one neighbor decided he/she didn’t like Graffiti Art and called the City? Why didn’t this same neighbor call the City about the other mural?
While we may not be able to change someone’s mind about Graffiti Art being a legitimate art style, we can at least try to change the outrageous government ordinance that is prohibiting North Hollywood from creating murals to beautify the neighborhood all under the guise of a “City of L.A. signage issue.”
Please stand with Barbara Black and our young, North Hollywood Graffiti artists. Email, Tweet, Facebook, etc. this article and tell North Hollywood Councilman Paul Krekorian:
SAVE Barbara Black’s North Hollywood Graffiti Art Mural
Call: (818) 755-7676
Fax: (818) 755-7862
6350 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Ste 201
North Hollywood, CA 91606
Once again, WTF?!
Shues and I had the day off so we biked around the city. We met up in downtown and went the long way to Angel’s Point and back. Here are some photos I took.
Click on the photos for more photos.