One thing you can expect from a bustling metropolis is constant change. If you grew up in Los Angeles or have lived here long enough, you will come to understand the urban planning concerns that have plagued our built environment, specifically public works projects. Most of us Angelenos most likely agree that public transportation is essential for long-term sustainability, yet, there are several communities and organized constituents that have voted down Metro expansion since its inception. NIMBYISM, Not in My Backyard, has been a constant reminder of oligarchic resistance to modern utilitarianism, which is why we’ve never been able to take the Metro to many locations of significance. Go ahead and check with Beverly Hills residents and ask them about Metro expansion to the high school, you’ll surely get a taste of separatism. Currently, the Metro is expanding rapidly like an octopus and spreading its tentacles all over the metropolis while leaving traffic congestion, anxiety, depopulation, and landmark closures in its wake. One of those locations, which has recently been relocated, is the Architecture and Design Museum in the Mid-City/Mid-Wilshire region on Wilshire Boulevard. It has since found a new home in the Arts District in Downtown, and as a way to address the concern and create dialogue; they have reached out to the graffiti community and its relationship to architecture and design.
If you were anywhere near Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue on March 28, you would have noticed a projected billboard-like premiere with the words, Beyond Graffiti II, and a roll call executed by one of our perennial hand-style masters, Chaz [Bojórquez]. On the side of the A+D Museum, you would’ve seen a monochromatic painted wall done by Aise Born, Fishe, Eder Cetina, Keef-Aura, and David “Dense” Zajdman. Upon entrance, your attention would have been drawn to a bright orange canvas with black lettering running across the middle, as if the orange coloring represented boostered orange groves, while the black represented a stain on the city… as in Dark Progressive contrast. Throughout the museum, the exhibition covered numerous works done by Aise Born, Atlas, Axis, Swank, Defer, Eyeone, Krush, Eder Cetina, Fishe, Kofie, The Phantom Street Artist, and Dreye. I recognized one of the paintings done by Axis that represented the Berlin Wall in satiric commentary which belongs to the renowned art collector, Ed Sweeney. The piece at the exhibition was the only print made and demonstrates the fine art capabilities that place you in Cold War context.
The exhibition was curated by the Los Angeles Art Collective, including Eder Cetina, Paul Wehby, Victor Solomon, Carlos Ulloa, and Tiffany Trenda, and the turnout brought out the collaborative spirit of this art community and its supporters in solidarity, respect, and unison. There were many great pieces executed, but I’ll have to admit that my favorite work was done by Dreye, which almost appears in simple illustration, but is rendered with absolute precision. His work conjures up biblical, tribal, post-modern, futuristic forward-thinking iconography in simultaneous layers that look chaotic and orderly in the same monochromatic stroke. I was unable to talk with the artist since he was simultaneously showing in two exhibitions which conflicted with scheduling, but overall the expanding landscape of the artwork demonstrated the far reaching evolutionary process of this artist, and all the others involved, which shows their elevated skill. If you have the opportunity to visit the museum and the exhibition, you will not be disappointed by the vast color schemes and the urban artwork that has contributed to the “California look” since the Great Depression.
[Editor’s note: For more on Beyond Graffiti II, you can read Rodrigo’s article on Huffington Post]
Beyond Graffiti 2
A+D Museum Los Angeles
6032 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tuesday through Friday: 11-5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12-6pm
All photos: Cindy Schwarzstein