Tag Archives: stencil street art

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE: STENCIL STREET ART ATTEMPTS WRY SOCIAL COMMENTARY ON SMARTPHONE USE

 

We were were recently walking down the street in the Arts District near Downtown Los Angeles (a.k.a., DTLA).

We were upbeat, bright-eyed, walking with a spring in our step, as one might say, practically skipping along the pavement and doing this all while scrolling through the email inbox on our battered iPhone, firmly en-gripped in our right hand. (BTW, we just made up that word “en-gripped,” which we think perfectly captures the idea of holding a phone while walking.)

That’s when we almost didn’t notice the nearly life-size stenciled silhouette of a lean, badly-postured man on the sidewalk ahead of us. See pic above.

This figure was staring down at his smartphone (sure, probably an iPhone, but, you never know, it could be a Droid — you’d be surprised sometimes that there are actually some non-iPhone smartphone users out there — Yes, even in the Arts District! Amazing, we know).

He seemed so engaged with his smartphone that he was missing out on all the stuff going on around him on the street. He was missing out on life, on living, and stuff that didn’t involve touch-screens and apps icons and likes and getting things done and working remotely and sending important work-related messages and viewing urgent texts about deadlines and budgets.

He was missing out on important non-important stuff, like missing out on all the awesome street art all around.

We took a pic of this.

Then we went back to scrolling through the email inbox on our battered iPhone and went on our merry way.

KNOWLEDGE: STREET ART EXPLAINS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FINANCE AND LOVE

Art can do many things. It can provoke, teach, offend, inform, comfort, inspire, scare, stimulate and bond us.

Street art, can possibly do even more things. Its public nature — in “the streets” —  gives it more reach and exposure to a much larger, broader audience than most of the art confined to the indoors of a museum or gallery. That said, most of the audience exposed to street art do not care for street art.

That public may not “get it” nor like it nor think of it as “art,” but as they drive by or walk by street art, they cannot unsee it (at least not without some kind of head-trauma induced amnesia or decades of expensive professional psychological counseling).

In this way, street art is like a billboard, or what people in the ad agency business called “OOH” for “out of home” advertising.

So any explicit message contained in the street artwork has as much power or influence as a billboard, which itself may be inconsequential or great depending on the content, images and message. In any case, while that influence can be hard to precisely measure, nobody is in doubt, however, about its visibility and potential.

Occasionally street art, or art in general, imparts some gem of wisdom and understanding in the viewer. Often, depending on the media, it’s nuanced, subject to interpretation and open to speculation. But sometimes it’s clearly stated, expressed using the power and clarity of the written word, relying more on text than image.

No money, No honey” (our comma) is the message in the stencil street art pictured here on a stretch of pavement in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The stenciled art provides a pithy, hyper-concise breakdown of the relationship between purchase power and sex (preferably of the hot kind).

The statement is a generally understood observation, and an unethical and shameful popular notion, that has existed since the beginning of time. To put it another way, it’s saying there’s a relationship between money and love, or the facsimile of love.

Is there a real-world example that might illustrate this relationship? Why, yes, there is, savvy reader! Yes, there is!

Take the case of Melania and Donald Trump. Melania here is the “honey” in the equation. The Donald has the “money.” If Donald does not have the money, it’s quite likely he wouldn’t have the “honey” (that’s Melania — c’mon folks follow along!). Because, really … Melania would give up the honey for this without the money?

Under any circumstances, the image of Melania giving up the honey for Donald Money is something we can’t unsee. It’s like street art. Or a billboard. Or street art ON a billboard. A really frightening billboard. 

How High-Low Can You Go? New Banksy Mural in London Rips Basquiat for Basquiat’s Sake

There’s a new Banksy in London!   Okay, okay, okay — calm down! We know how exciting this must be for you. Us, too! But let’s take a moment and catch our breath, ’cause this is no ordinary new piece of street art from the world’s most mysterious artist.

The latest Banksy is ripping off one of the most famous and original popular post-modern artists to emerge from New York City in the heady 1980s.

You know the ’80s, right? It’s that era when people did lots of coke and wore lots of pastel-colored clothing in America, say, like a a pink linen blazer with the sleeves rolled up past the elbow (’cause in the ’80s they figured out that wearing your blazer that way made it all the easier for you to drive your convertible white Ferrari Mondial around the broad and desolate mean streets of Miami at midnight with a moody expression on your face).

Anyways, that important ’80s artist was the late, great Basquiat, as in Jean-Michel Basquiat. In the 1990s, Hollywood produced a biopic about him with Jeffrey Wright, Dennis Hopper, and David Bowie (who played artist Andy Warhol in the film).

So Banksy is ripping off Basquiat for his latest work. Well, “rip off” is a harsh term. Did we really say that? Kind of, maybe, not really. We meant “riffs” off. (Or is it “riff on”?). Or rather what we meant was Banksy is giving “a nod” to Basquiat.

Let’s clarify. Banksy has created an original Banksy artwork that depicts two police officers in his usual style of monochromatic black and gray graffiti-painted stencils.

The police are patting down and writing a citation for a very authentically-rendered impressionistic black figure painted in a style that is mind-blowingly like a Basquiat painting.

Nearby is a painting of a very Basquiat-esque dog growling, as well as a mash-up of a very Keith Haring-esque (as in Keith Haring, another late, great ’80s NYC art star) and a very Basquiat-esque human figure leaping into the air.

Is Banksy ripping off Basquiat (or Haring for that matter)? No, Unequivocally, “no!” we say.

The artwork is an homage and a site-specific work referencing a new massive exhibition of Basquiat’s work at the Barbican Centre in London. The show is awesomely titled “Boom for Real.”

Banksy’s artwork here is fucking brilliant. It’s a collision of high-brow and low-brow in a way that makes so much sense and says so much.

Basquiat, a street artist who became a legit art star and darling of the art world, if he were alive today and walking down the streets of central London might not be able to go see his own exhibition at major museum without being stopped by police or racially profiled as suspicious. There’s some bitter irony here.

Go see it while it lasts or before the neighborhood becomes so much more expensive that you’ll need to take out a mortgage to buy a flat-white coffee.

 

Cute Monster Stencil Street Art … Atwater Village, Los Angeles

Atwater Village in Los Angeles is where we found this stencil street art of a cute Sesame Street muppets-like monster on the sidewalk. (If you’re looking for it, it’s in front of Kaldi Coffee on Glendale Blvd.) There’s not a lot of this type of street art in Atwater, but it’s not much of a surprise to find it here either.

Atwater is a relaxed neighborhood tucked on a plain across the L.A. river north of and directly adjacent to the small mountainous areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, L.A.’s long-established two-name combo of gentrified hipsterland. These two hoods feel very much a part of the city and have layers of grit and patination suggesting the edgy character of their pre-gentrification past. Atwater, on the other hand, only a couple of minutes drive away, feels like a quiet residential suburb a world away and is largely devoid of central L.A.’s gritty tinctures.  

Yet it has captured the hipster overspill of cool restaurants and foodie haunts, third-wave espresso bars, indie book and record stores, vintage clothing shops and yoga studios that have signified the gentrification process in the Silver Lake and Echo Park for the past 10-15 years. With has come art and street art.

That said, there’s some hipster cultural heritage in Atwater. In the 1990s, the Beastie Boys ran their mini music and Grand Royal magazine empire from offices and studios on Glendale Blvd., Atwater’s main drag. They recorded their seminal sample-heavy album “Paul’s Boutique” there, too. Atwater is also home to what some consider to be among the finest tacos in Los Angeles. For a segment a few years ago on his TV series “The Layover,” Anthony Bourdain stopped by Tacos Villa Corona, a microscopic hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint that the Beasties used to frequent.

Cat Stencil Street Art … Malibu, Los Angeles

Along Pacific Coast Highway, across from famed Malibu Beach and its iconic pier, is this amusing life-size stencil street art of a cat’s silhouette on a brick wall. The feline is depicted in mid-stride at sidewalk level as if casually padding down the pavement in search of the next meal. Next to the cat is the stenciled message “only fools litter.”