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MOCA’s “Art in the Streets” Offers Visual Feast Near Little Tokyo/Arts District Gold Line Station
The main wall says it all as you enter “Art in the Streets” at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
The walls are a visual explosion of color and graphics.
We just popped in for an hour after a business meeting in Little Tokyo last Thursday, when evenings are free from 5 – 8 p.m. Normally, admission can run $10.
In addition to Thursday evenings, you can avoid the admission charge Mondays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and see amazing street art thanks to Banksy, the British street artist, who stated: “I don’t think you should have to pay to look at graffiti. You should only pay if you want to get rid of it.”
If the idea of paying to see graffiti seems strange, perhaps it is no more strange or controversial than the idea of staging a major art museum exhibition of graffiti and street art.
The strange/controversial reality of graffiti as fine art can be seen in “Art in the Streets,” which highlights the history of street art and graffiti at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Little Tokyo through August 8.
If the exhibit’s concept isn’t controversial enough, its creation began with a censorship controversy as noted in the Los Angeles Times review by Sharon Mizota and documented in a video about the censored mural by Italian street artist BLU. Ironically, the replacement mural, “Birds Of A Feather” by artists Lee Quinones, Abel, Cern, FUTURA, Loomit, Push, RISK and Sano, documented in a MOCA video, is also political.
This may be just one more example of the ephemeral nature of street art. We said the idea of street art in a museum can be strange.
MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch described the exhibition as, “The first exhibition to position the work of the most influential artists to emerge from street culture in the context of contemporary art history.” The exhibit has a timeline showing the development of this medium and placing the artists in cultural context.
Almost every inch of the 40,000 square feet of exhibition space in this former police car warehouse (renovated by the noted California architect Frank Gehry) is covered with art – even the women’s restroom.
Many pieces of art and several elaborate installations were created for this exhibition – and the show keeps changing as artists visit and make adjustments/additions. Street art is ephemeral, after all.
There are installations by more than 50 dynamic graffiti and street artists, including Fab 5 Freddy (New York), Lee Quiñones (New York), Futura (New York), Margaret Kilgallen (San Francisco), Swoon (New York), Shepard Fairey (Los Angeles), Os Gemeos (São Paulo), and JR (Paris). MOCA’s exhibition shows Los Angeles artists’ roles in the evolution of graffiti and street art, with special sections showcasing cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture. The exhibition features installations by influential local artists such as Craig R. Stecyk III, Chaz Bojórquez, Mister Cartoon, RETNA, SABER, REVOK, and RISK.
The abundance of images creates an enveloping experience.
We must come back for more.
“Art in the Streets” continues through August 8, 2011.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Monday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday Closed
Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Satday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
General Admission: $10
Students with ID: $5
Seniors (65+): $5
Children under 12: Free
Jurors with ID: Free
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is free Thursdays from
5-8 p.m. Free Thursdays at MOCA is presented by Wells Fargo.
“Art in the Streets” is free Mondays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. thanks to British street artist Banksy.
When exiting the Gold Line, cross the tracks and walk west along First Street. Turn right into the pedestrian mall alongside the Japanese American National Museum and continue north to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on your right.