Arts & Entertainment

Beyond The Streets: Graffiti and Street Art in DTLA

By Jeff Davis

Beyond The Streets is a multimedia showcase of graffiti, street art, murals, photography, sculpture, and rooms size installation currently on exhibit in downtown LA through July 6th, 2018. The show is housed in a 40,000 square foot warehouse located at 1667 N. Main Street, LA, CA 90012. Although billed as “The Definitive Showcase of Graffiti & Street Art” it is actually much broader in terms of appeal and reach. Unlike MOCA’s 2011 “Art in the Streets” which had a much more narrowly defined definition of street art, Beyond the Streets includes studio artists who either started in the streets or were influenced by those early risk takers. In addition to the expected LA artists including Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, RETNA, Gorilla Girls and photography of famous LA murals you’ll see mind-blowing works by Takashi Murakami, Pat Riot  and Faile .  It’s a museum quality exhibit, well worth the $25 admission price.

Plan at least 1.5 to 2 hours to experience the exhibit without rushing yourself. It’s also an excellent idea to use the map provided to weave your way through the maze-like fist half of the show which focuses predominantly on more traditional street art (graffiti, murals etc.) The second half of the show is easier to navigate, housed in the back of the warehouse, which has larger open spaces that flow more easily into one another. Photography is encouraged and there are tons of selfie opportunities throughout.

There are too many exceptional works to highlight them all, but I’ll give you a glimpse of a few I found noteworthy or unexpected. Eye-catchers in the 1st half of the exhibit include Caledonia Curry’s (aka “Swoon”) life size wheat-paste prints and cutouts that stare at you as you walk by; her classic training is evident in the highly detailed portraits. Swoon’s works explore the relationships between people and their built environments. “No Strings”, a surrealistic menagerie of animals by Greg “Craola” Simkins stands out from the pack immediately. I didn’t expect this type of detailed, fine line technical painting in the exhibit, however, I can see the street art/ graffiti influences.

“Moni”, Swoon, 2018, Silkscreen, cut paper, acrylic gouache on wood, 74” x 81”.  – Photo by Jeff Davis / Beacon Media News

“No Strings”, Craola, 2017, Acrylic on Canvas, 81” x 116.5”.  – Photo by Craola

Gajin Fujita, a navtive of East LA, works pull from his Japanese and American cultural backgrounds. “Invincible Kings of This Mad Mad World” is an imaginary realm where opposing cultural elements might exist. The gold leaf surface is covered with graffiti covering parts of the Japanese and American iconic imagery. It looks like a beautiful Japanese Disney billboard was defaced, or perhaps enhanced with spraypaint.

“Invincible Kings of This Mad Mad World”, Gajin Fujita, 2017, Spray paint, paint markers, grease pencil, 24k gold leaf, 12k white gold leaf, platinum leaf, gloss finish on panel, 96” x 192”.  – Photo by Gajin Fujita

The excitement continues to build in the 2nd half of the exhibit. Murakami’s massive collaboration with with MADSAKI, snipe1, TENGA one, ONEZKER is a show-stopper. The 20’ x 46’ two-sided mural drapes in a semi-circle from the ceiling and a bench in the center allows the viewer to sit inside and absorb the imagery. “Depicting this Purgatorial World” delivers exactly what the name implies; flames, graffiti and text on one side and hundreds of screaming cartoonish heads on the other. You’d think that would be hard to match, however, the Brooklyn based artist duo Faile’s (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller) stone installation, “Temple”, is equally impressive. It’s an interactive construction of ceramic, steel, mosaics, prayer wheels and sculpture that invites the participant to walk through and around the temple. The level of craftsmanship and detail is stunning. The interior contains a horse-man in scuba gear at the center of a fountain and a relief over the exit displaying a naked woman in the mouth of a T-Rex. I leave interpretation to the viewer.

“Depicting this Purgatorial World”, Murakami with MADSAKI, snipe1, TENGA one, ONEZKER, 2017, 236” x 551”. – Photo by Bobby Hundreds.

“Temple”, Faile, 2010, ceramic, marble, bronze, cast iron steel, limestone and mosaic. – Photo by Bobby Hundreds

Although you’ll naturally gravitate to the larger works, there are many additional pieces in the side rooms that shouldn’t be missed. Pat Riot’s “The Problematique” condom wall structure showcases the futility of humankind’s rapid pursuit of perfection. The man is incredibly creative – this one surprised and fascinated me.

“The Problematique”, Pat Riot, Mixed media sculpture, Condoms + Mixed Media. – Photo by Jeff Davis / Beacon Media News

Try to go early (12 Noon), to avoid the crowds and for ease of parking. Although there is considerable street parking in the area it fills up rather quickly. It’s almost easier to take Uber or Lyft to avoid the hassle.

Gallery Captions:

“Moni”, Swoon, 2018, Silkscreen, cut paper, acrylic gouache on wood, 74” x 81.” – Photo by Jeff Davis / Beacon Media News

“No Strings”, Craola, 2017, Acrylic on Canvas, 81” x 116.5.” – Photo by Craola

“Invincible Kings of This Mad Mad World”, Gajin Fujita, 2017, Spray paint, paint markers, grease pencil, 24k gold leaf, 12k white gold leaf, platinum leaf, gloss finish on panel, 96” x 192.”  – Photo by Gajin Fujita

“Depicting this Purgatorial World”, Murakami with MADSAKI, snipe1, TENGA one, ONEZKER, 2017, 236” x 551.” – Photo by Bobby Hundreds.

“Temple”, Faile, 2010, ceramic, marble, bronze, cast iron steel, limestone and mosaic. – Photo by Bobby Hundreds

“The Problematique”, Pat Riot, Mixed media sculpture, Condoms + Mixed Media. – Photo by Jeff Davis / Beacon Media News

May 22, 2018

About Author

Jeff Davis Jeff Davis is an artist with a studio at the Hawthorne Art Complex. He writes a monthly column for Beacon Media publications as well as collecting and investing in art and other asset classes. Mr. Davis has a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He grew up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and has lived in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and currently resides in Los Angeles. Please contact Mr. Davis at his website www.davisphere.com or through Beacon Media if you would like c.overage of a local art event or exhibit.


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