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?
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.
The French street artist known as Invader (a.k.a., “Space Invader”) occupies a distinct place in the street art world. He has worked in a medium that few others have. His artwork is in the form pre-arranged mosaic-tile pieces affixed to walls all over the world. The mosaic tiles give his images a pixelated look consistent with the aesthetic of old-school video game interfaces like 1980s arcade game Space Invader, to which his name alludes. The images in his mosaics have mostly been of the iconic alien invaders from that classic game. For the blockbuster Beyond the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles, Invader created the site specific work pictured here that declares “Invader was here.” The official title of this artwork is “LA 172,” which denotes that this is the 172nd such mosaic artwork he has put up in Los Angeles throughout his career.
The artist ALEC has made a career of street art and massive murals with images of pop-culture icons and celebrities from New York City to far-flung corners like Bali, Indonesia. It’s fitting — and perhaps inevitable — that in the heart of Hollywood he would paint a mural of legendary film actress Marilyn Monroe, a cinematic icons who best represents the spectrum of Hollywood fame, glitz and glamour, and ultimately tragedy.