… FOR ICE CREAM! Well, we didn’t want any ice cream before we saw this mural on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. (We think it was Melrose, but our memory is a bit distorted since we’ve been seriously distracted by this terrible L.A.summer heatwave.) Then we saw this beautiful mural in front of an ice cream shop, the name of which escapes our memory (again … we blame the heatwave). Maybe it was a gelato shop. In any case, the mural got us thinking about ice cream. The colors of the artwork reminded us of savory ice cream flavors like salted caramel, chocolate and sorbet. Yummy. The mural is delight of symmetry and color and looks cool and delicious. The opposite of hot, dry, sweaty and crazy from the heat. Now we want ice cream. Let’s start screaming.
This epic mural adjacent to a couple of rental-car parking lots in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles, is impressive and sweeping. But at a glance, if you squint a bit, it looks like the artist has appropriated the style of almost any painting by the late Austrian artist Gustav Klimt? Is it just us?
This massive hanging canvas by Takashi Murakami is like nothing else the Japanese artist has exhibited before or that we’ve seen from any contemporary artist. It’s a painting on an epic scale and largely characteristic of Murakami’s 2D style except for elements of graffiti art and tags visually woven into the composition. The painting is two-sided. In that sense, it’s like two paintings on a single canvas, each side different in tone from the opposite side. The artwork is hanging in a way that forms a semi-circle and a kind of alcove for the viewer. As Murakami’s artwork goes, this is distinct vision, a nightmare, strangely compelling and stunning, where the artist’s usual visual grammar and symbolism has been put through a filter, as it rendered in a fever dream or a drug-induced state. In any case, it’s a masterpiece. It’s currently on view at the blockbuster Beyond the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles.
The story may be apocryphal, but if true — and we believe it is — it’s a telling anecdote about the graffiti artist Claw, a.k.a., Claw Money., a.k.a., Claudia Gold. Back in the day, in the 1990s, a friend of ours and Claw dated briefly. As he recalled, one time they were together, she suddenly left in the wee hours of morning to “fix” or repair one of her graffiti a tags in New York’s East Village. Claw had got word that somebody had written graffiti over her tag and went out as soon as she could to surreptiously restore her tag to its former glory. That’s commitment. Coincidentally many years later, we worked briefly with an advertising agency in New York whose offices were next to the office of Claw’s growing fashion business. We hadn’t seen much of Claw in recent years in terms of graffiti art. So it was a welcome surprise to see her signature claw graffiti tag at the Beyond the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Given her influence and the iconic style of her distinct graffiti tag, it shouldn’t be a surprise at all.