As we depart the City of Angels and the Devils go back to dirty old New York here are some images from the more organic and populist walls that exist in certain neighborhoods in every city. A Street Art pulse-taking, you can observe and assess the vitals of a community and some of the currents running through it just by observing these magnet walls that attract a cacophony of expression.
In the case of this block of walls, the Street Art is notable also for the high degree of political speech one can not find in “papers of record” on display for anyone who cares to see it or report on it. Whether it’s AIDS, censorship, or the military industrial complex, political speech has always been integral to the conversation on the street that these artists bring. With references to leaders like Julian Assange, Ronald Reagan, Ben Bernanke, and Nelson Mandela as well topics ranging from Abu Graib, FOX News, corporatized American Indians, and of course MOCA’s Jeffrey Dietch whitewashing the work of Italian Street Artist BLU’s wall, the LA Street Art scene is on fire with popular discontent and acidic criticism. With roots in people’s movements, seeing these displays from a great number of sources is actually a bit of a tribute to free speech and the city that permits its continuance.
A playful skewering of Eli Broad and Jeffrey Dietch for the show “Art in the Streets” went up in advance of the show’s opening. Photo © Jaime Rojo
The variety of styles and processes is pretty wide, ranging from large-run stickers and screen printed posters to hand stitched abstract geometry and penciled portraits, some exhibiting the New Guard that didn’t make it into the timeline at the museum show running this summer. Aside from the political, other themes include celebrity, video games, pop culture and simple illustrations and fascinations or daydreams. As usual, some of the freshest stuff is displayed in the gallery of the streets – uncurated, unpermissioned, unbought, unbossed, and – giving lie to the charge of street art as a simple marketing tool – many times it is unsigned. As today’s new street artists claim what they consider a birthright to circumvent the established system and take their work to the street, you’ll see an ongoing conversation that is full of life.