In recent years, the street art movement has made great strides in demonstrating its undeniable social appeal. The demand for its aesthetic has spread in a myriad of directions.
There is incredible demand for art on surfboards, limited edition sneakers, toys, apparel and more. Commissions by big names like Louis Vuitton (in San Francisco based artist Reyes’ case) have also become reality. Passionate organizations such as Viva La Art are marrying art with philanthropy to establish a deeper connection to the community.
Then came groundbreaking recognition by traditional art institutions. MOCA’s Art in the Streets was the first major U.S. museum study of graffiti and street art. The exhibition featured work by 50 prominent artists, including Retna, whose poetic typography is seen throughout the streets of Los Angeles. This show marked the highest exhibition attendance in the museum’s history, beating previous records set by Andy Warhol and Murakami. In response to the unprecedented demand, Pasadena Museum of California Art held its own exhibition, “Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas.” Most recently, Doyle Auction House on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (one of the world’s largest auctioneers/appraisers of fine art), held its first street art auction in the U.S. on Oct. 16; curator Angelo Madrigale selected 46 works by top artists, including Banksy.
When it comes to providing cultural enrichment, revitalization of the urban landscape and connecting with the community it shares public space with, here are the prominent players in the L.A. street art scene that support the outrageous talent it has cultivated for so many years. Here’s to making sure that street art continues to transcend former perceptions.
441 North Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA. 90036
As founder of Known Gallery and The Seventh Letter, Casey Zoltan is a driving force in L.A. street art. He has exhibited top graffiti/street artists such as Retna, RISK, Push and my personal favorite, Reyes (whose unrestrained compositions and handstyle is a thing of beauty). Some of the gallery’s artists are members of two world-renowned graffiti crews hailing from Los Angeles with members in 10 countries, AWR (Angels Will Rise) and MSK (Mad Society Kings). Check the website for upcoming exhibitions.
1335 Willow Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
“LALA believes that art is meant to be lived and experienced.” Located in an old meat packing facility, the indoor/outdoor LALA Gallery is a space where influential street artists exhibit their work and community admirers come to connect with them. Ever seen those monumental murals that bring buildings to life throughout Downtown Los Angeles? Dan Lahoda (Owner of LALA) can be thanked for that with his lead on the LA Freewalls Project, of which Pow Wow (founded by Jasper Wong) shares similar tones in Hawaii.
This past August, Lahoda, in collaboration with Rick Robinson (MacDonald Media) launched “Public Works,” a trailblazing exhibit that displayed murals on participating commercial billboards throughout the greater L.A. area. The artist lineup boasted some of the most respected names in street art, such as How and Nosm and L.A. icons Saber and Shepard Fairey, amongst select others.
1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Perhaps you’ve popped into this venue while walking with a coffee from Intelligentsia in tow. On a monthly basis, the “Center for Audio & Visual Expression” presents a fresh roster of both emerging and established artists supporting the New Contemporary Art movement. Past exhibitions have featured L.A.-based street artists such as Van Saro and John Park. The latter artist is known for doing live painting at prominent events such as Coachella and Burning Man, where his classically taught art skills converge with freeform energy generated by the environment.
Max Neutra is next on deck with an opening reception scheduled for Jan. 12. This self-taught artist has a distinct gonzo style, drawing inspiration from subjects such as the fading line between man and machine. His process is rife with contradiction and imperfection, of which art that mimics life is created.
Branded Arts curates art exhibitions and stages art-driven events that merge visual art with music, fashion and entertainment. Founder Warren Brand has orchestrated and sponsored more than 20 large-scale public mural projects around the L.A. area over the last two years.
The Branded Arts Block Party took place last month at a 25,000-square-foot (soon-to-be demolished) property in Culver City to commemorate the murals painted on the buildings. The event also featured a private collection, live music/painting, fashion vendors and bars. L.A.-based artists David Flores and street art trio Cyrcle can be seen painting their murals that were seen at the Branded Arts Block Party in this video.
When looking to the horizon, founder Warren Brand hopes to facilitate projects that will commission recognized artists to paint public murals at schools and other places to inspire local youth.
Hold Up Art
358 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90012
Located in Little Tokyo, HUA curates local artists from L.A. and throughout California, charged with the mission of making art accessible to those that express an interest in learning more about it.
Their artist roster includes the likes of RISK and Allison Torneros. Mear One, who’s been referred to as “The Michelangelo of Graffiti” (as a result of the revolutionary fine art realism seen in his work), can also be found on their list.
Joy Bitonio has the phrase “Joie de Vivre” tattooed on her shoulder, a reminder to enjoy life every single day. She has a voracious appetite for fun, adventure, food, good cocktails and works out like a madwoman to keep it all together. Her fitness articles can be found on examiner.com. Follow her on Twitter.