As the Los Angeles art world kept chugging along with opening after opening inside its pristine, white walls, a group of artists went out under the cloak of the night and made art in the darkness. Working on any surface they could find, these brave souls created illegal street art unafraid of any legal consequences their art might bring.
Today, some of those deemed “street artists”–and the label only gets harder and harder to use–create legal, public works, and even move into the worlds of mass media and advertising. The street art movement only continues to grow with more players in the game and a higher number of reactions–both negative and positive–from aware Angelenos and others around the globe.
Thursday night at Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, art lovers could feast their eyes on works from some of the best-known names in the street art scene. At the Art Walk Lounge, Jim Daichendt and Adam Clark, authors of Stay Up!:Los Angeles Street Art and Billboard Bandits, respectively, signed copies of their books which focus on current Los Angeles artists and their impact on the streets. Nearby, small replicas of billboards showcased the talents of Bonkers, $tatus Faction, All the Girls Love Earl, THEFL, SMEAR, and more.
Each artist took the billboard aesthetic and turned it topsy-turvy, completely overtaking the surfaces with their signature style or warping a familiar advertising image with clever additions. Seeing each billboard on a small-scale allowed viewers to glean all the details. The one-night show felt like the artists’ validation to the art sphere, including the wanderers of Art Walk, that street art will only continue to take over the surfaces of the city. And considerign the explosive styles of the artists gathered at the show, that’s nothing this long-time Angeleno will complain about. Both Stay Up! and Billboard Bandits create a way for street art lovers to collect images from around the city, something especially pertinent since most pieces don’t last long.
If there’s one thing the show made me realize it’s that street art unites a variety of artists with different background, aesthetic styles and approaches, we’re just lucky enough to be a city that can see those styles right when we walk out of our front doors.
Top: copies of Stay Up!: Los Angeles Street Art