In Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art is showing “Art in the Streets” at the Geffen Contemporary. Presented are works by 50 artists covering the history of graffiti and street art from New York to LA, Paris, and Sao Paulo. Well, 50 artists, but obviously not all of the ones people respect judging from the comments on the site, www.moca.org. A lot of yelling about the artist who was left out, Blek le Rat from Paris. But you can find him elsewhere on the Net.
ARTnews, in its January issue, has a great article “Beyond Graffiti.” So the interest in street art is becoming legit. Depending on whether you call it graffiti, street art, tagging, or crap on a wall, it is getting press.
Yesterday in the LA Times, tho, the police noticed an increase in graffiti around the Geffen and the museum has taken to the streets erasing the tags. That’s a rather mixed message. Seems to me if they are presenting as valid the street art inside the museum, they ought to leave the new tags outside at least for the duration of the show. It’s like, good art/bad art.
One commentator felt that if the art was illegal, it wasn’t art. But you can steal a Picasso or a Venus from a dig, then sell it illegally, and it’s still art.
Nothing in my neighborhood approaches the kind of street art at MOCA. Nevertheless, there is some art around that is visible from the street, although it is not tagger art, or graffiti, but there by permission of the property owner. If you get gas at the 76 station in El Cajon you can look at cranes and pandas on all the walls and metal boxes inside and out while you pump the gas. No one in the store knows anything about the artist or artists, so it remains anonymous for most of us.
Some other electrical boxes around are painted, with varying skill, and a mural in downtown La Mesa reflects the usual attitude towards graffiti–erase it fast.
I posted the red flower in the blog I did on the murals in La Jolla. I need to go back and see if it is still there. It’s in an alley next to a commissioned mural by Kim MacConnel. So within feet of each other, the illegal graffiti and the legal mural. Sounds like the streets around Geffen Contemporary.