Go "Beyond The Streets" In Los Angeles
A union of seminal graffiti artists and those they inspired
by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick
It’s hard to speak about Los Angeles' "Beyond The Streets" without mentioning "Art In The Streets," the landmark 2011 MOCA show that surveyed the world of graffiti and street art. Both incorporate big names in the game (like Retna, SWOON and Barry McGee) with all work displayed in engaging, interactive ways. Both sprung up in Downtown Los Angeles, on the outskirts of where the neighborhood begins or ends, and both incorporate the hand of Roger Gastman, a somewhat singular graffiti historian and curator who has a knack for bringing the world of street art together.
It’s this feeling of togetherness that "Beyond The Streets" is all about. If "Art In The Streets" was a major survey of graffiti and street art, "Beyond The Streets" is a sort of reunion, a getting the band back together to get into their old antics again. The show stretches across multiple rooms in a warehouse, framed straightforwardly as a museum exhibition, before expanding to large-scale pieces, to site-specific installations and quiet moments of discovery. It's subdued yet overwhelming, a clean sweep of everything that continues to shake out from street art.
This affords the show its brightest and most subtle moments as it functions like a playlist of the biggest street art stars. An incarnation of Kenny Scharf’s "Cosmic Cavern" is offered behind a curtain not too far from the entrance. The Guerrilla Girls submit #resist urgings before leading viewers to André’s "wiggly friends" and Dream Concert posters. SWOON’s series of delicate cut-outs takes visitors to a clean survey of Shepard Fairey, then Dennis Hopper, Ron English, Mister Cartoon and on and on. There were moments of history intermixed, even quieter scenes where art figures like Kilroy Was Here, Cornbread, Taki 183, and more are celebrated.
Then the show shifts, moving from more formal art spaces and practices to looser, enveloping areas that intend to wow. A three-story Takahashi Murakami mural-on-a-screen wraps onlookers, FAILE presents a captivating porcelain temple, DABSMYLA deliver a floral evolution of their work, before sending you to adidas Skateboarding and RISK's stellar recreation of the iconic Venice Pavilion, a skatepark at the beach end of Los Angeles that attracted visitors and locals. This part of the show also brings out crossover artists whose work moved indoors, starting dialogues with contemporary art institutions. This includes artists like Cleon Peterson, Maya Hayuk, Ben Jones, Banksy, KATSU, and Jenny Holzer, among others. These works, like the entire show, include art brought into the space and art made in the space.
"Beyond The Streets" has something for all viewers—graffiti die-hards, writers, street art experts, art snobs and more. It's playful and smart and, while singular in its own right, those who have been around to watch these art-forms evolve will be reminded of where this all began.
"Beyond The Streets" is open now through 6 July. Tickets are available online.
Images by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick