From Downtown to Midtown to South Central, Los Angeles’ streets have become canvases. After MOCA’s “Art in the Streets,” street art not only grabbed Angelenos’ attention, it became a hot topic in the art world. Attempting to shed light on the city’s street art scene is Azusa Pacific professor and writer Jim Daichendt, author of “Stay Up! Los Angeles Street Art.” Set for release in November of this year, the book explores the many topics of conversation in this ever-growing movement. Said Daichendt:
As a writer, I’m constantly writing all the time and I’ve lived here in the Los Angeles area for four years after I moved here from New York. I’ve written two books prior to this and they were both very academic.
When writing his second book, Artist Scholar: Reflections on Writing and Research, the author briefly mentioned Banksy. Little did he know it would lead to the next book as his fascination with street art grew.
I just had a fantastic time working on this little, tiny part of the book and in doing that research for the appendix in that book. I started researching LA street art to get familiar with it and I fell in love with it. I thought the cast of characters was absolutely fantastic. The accessibility of street art along with the subculture of doing it a different way from the regular art world was endearing and motivational.
When researching other published street art books, Daichendt realized there were none specifically on the LA scene. He started with the artist Bumblebee and from there got introduced to other key names. Sneak peeks of the book’s photos, mostly snapped by Lord Jim, reveal work from the likes of Shepard Fairey, Smear and Banksy. In a little over a year, Daichendt spoke to more than 50 artists. He said:
With me coming from the academic background, the community was embracing. They loved the idea of street art being treated as something serious.
SMEAR, who wrote the foreword for the book, thought the same. The artist met Daichendt at the Goethe Institut on Wilshire earlier this year. He appreciates Daichendt’s art expertise, stating:
It’s not just some guy who really likes street art and decides to write a book about it and have a few pictures and a little bio on each artist. This was more in-depth and with the whole canon of modern and contemporary art.
The artist sets up the book by painting a picture of the typical night out in the city making street art. By describing the risk and the fear of the experience, he puts people right into the street art lifestyle. For SMEAR, the book lends street art the important it deserves. He states:
I’m glad Jim took an interest in street art. It’s good to have people like that on board. It’s good to have people that know about art and are about art and embrace it for what it is. It’s a legitimate art movement. It has an illegal aspect that is a little different or out there, but it’s legitimate.
“Stay Up!” focuses on discussing street art and graffiti in depth, touching on topics like street artists’ tendency to be separate from the conventional art world while being still being pulled into it as paid professionals. Ultimately, it’s the author’s intent to inspire other artists, street or not. Daichendt elaborates:
In the last chapter ‘Pushing Street Art Forward,’ I lay out characteristics [of street art] that are endearing and that any artist can pull from to be a better artist and make a career in the arts, specifically pulled from street artists working today. To me, that it is meant to be incredibly encouraging for everyone.
For more information, visit the book’s Facebook page. SMEAR will have a show at Azusa Pacific University with Haunted Euth entitled “Into the Darkness” at Duke Gallery from November 5 – 20.