Tag Archives: socal

Shocking: Street Art is Possibly Portrait of Late Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein

We recently stumbled upon some awesome street art work (see pic below) by the talented “Decisions and Review.” The work was wheatpasted in a back-alley (is there any other kind?) in the recently hip-ish Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo.

Never heard of El Segundo? Well, let us fill you in. It’s a respectable residential hamlet famous for being geographically surrounded by aerospace industry, oil fields, power plants, and LAX, as well as being the occasional location of ’90s-era rappers leaving behind their wallets.

There’s not a lot of street art in quiet, solidly middle-working-to-middle-hipster class “ELS,” or “the Gundo,” as some feral cafe-running locals like to call the place. So imagine our surprise to see some 100% Grade-A street art, the kind you see every five feet in NYC’s Lower East Side, in his staid LA burb.

But we’re burying the lede here: The street artwork in question, at first glance, looks like a colorful portrait of the late and notorious Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Now, why would anybody want to do that?” you ask, red-faced and exasperated. Well, chill your fucking jets, ok! It’s not a portrait of Saddam Hussein! It’s somebody else.

Who? Well, we don’t know. But it’s not Saddam! Look closely at the photo … The dude is playing an acoustic  guitar. Like when did you EVER see an Iraqi dictator strumming 12-bar blues on a six-string Gibson? You cool now? 

Anyway, massive shouts to Decisions and Review for all their beautiful work. Check ’em.

“Transparent Migrations”

The LACMA exhibition “Home – So Different, So Appealing” is turning into something of a landmark show with all the buzz from critics and patrons alike. The exhibition features a sprawling collection of artwork from Latin American and Latino artists since the 1950s to the present. As the shows title suggests, it explores themes of home, aspirations and identity,  as the collection reveals, it’s in the context of immigration, socio-economic hardship,  and the personal bi-cultural experiences that come with migration and transience. Contemporary art figures prominently. There are many art-installation pieces and many worthy of attention. One of the more striking and evocative works is “Transparent Migrations” (2001) by the American Latina and Californian artist Amalia Mesa-Bains, who is now in her seventies. The work is beautifully mysterious and sublime shrine.

Calvin & Hobbes Mural at Dangerbird

Pictured here is artist David Flores’s super-Instagrammable and super-cute mural depicting the classic comicstrip characters Calvin and Hobbes at the Dangerbird Records building in Los Angeles. There’s a mashup of graphic visions at play here. Flore’s work has a impressionistic illustrative style that relies on strong clean lines that organize the surfaces of his subjects into panels in various hues of a thematic color. The challenge here is rendering that style on popular characters that have an established and easily recognizable graphic identity. Calvin and Hobbes are drawn in a style by Bill Waterson, their original creator, that is distinct. Flores has managed to faithfully render Waterson’s characters and style and yet bring his recognizable aesthetic to the artwork.

Dumpster Cactus

Cacti, like the illustrated tri-color cactus pasted onto this dumpster, dot Southern California’s natural desert landscape from Coachella to Mexico to the coastline of Santa Barbara and e eruwhete in between. So it’s fitting that street art depicting this resilient desert plant would dot the urban landscape of Los Angeles. The one on the dumpster in the pic above is in LA’s Arts District, an area that until recent gentrification was a kind of urban desert.

“Mirage” at Desert X

Like a shiny extra-terrestrial bobble tucked into the foothills above Palm Springs, “Mirage” by Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken is among the most striking contemporary-art experiences of 2017. It’s probably the unofficial rockstar of Desert X, an inaugural exhibition of site-specific artworks mostly in the form of installations and sculptural objects spread across the desert landscape of the Coachella Valley.

“Mirage” is a literal house of mirrors. Its loose architectural form is a single-story ranch house in a nod to the region’s traditional housing style. But it’s a ranch house with a shape augmented by contemporary touches – a skylight, a balcony, a window-less chamber.

All that architecture is just a platform for Aitken’s bold visual statement and its main feature: The mirrored surfaces of the house inside and out. The exterior walls, and interior walls and ceilings, are mirrors reflecting the desert landscape outside and multiplying the reflections inside like a silverlight echo chamber. It is not enough to look at it.

Walking through “Mirage” is to be entranced by the unceasing play of light from every angle and reflective pane and by the all the possibilities in reframing your view of the bright desert outside through the house’s many windows 

“Skull Phone” Street Art by Spazmat

For years we would see the wheat-pasted artwork of artist Spazmat posted around downtown New York City. His posters were unmissable. His street art was comprised of an iconic image: An illustrated portrait of a skeleton with a cell phone in its bony hand held up to the skull as if talking on the phone. The posters were usually rendered in a stark white on black. Informally dubbed as “Skull Phone,” the image suggested many things, among these the dangers of technology.  We hadn’t seen Spazmat’s artwork in many years until we recently spotted one of his skull phone wheaties on a utility box along Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. This one was printed in blue and white with a striped design, almost nautical in style and fitting for its location a few meters across the road from the ocean.