Photo by G.
After spending the weekend at the Mermaid Day Parade and the Folsom Street East Festival, two very liberal events in New York, my jaded self was starting to think that people are finally starting to get together en masse to say “we’re sick of the way things are and we are going to put a stop to it.” Without me going into a preaching rant (too late), let me just leave it at this: 1% of the world controls the other 99% – WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
In Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art, they are exhibiting “Art in the Streets,” a celebration and pretty comprehensive history of graffiti and street art. Before launching in LA, it caused all kinds of controversy from the inclusion and omission of certain artists in an artistic version of Payola, to the removal of some ‘officially sanctioned’ works on the streets to an alleged increase in graffiti in LA that resulted in high profile news stories of multiple artists getting arrested.
“Art in the Streets” has been wildly successful and on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I saw the exhibit and I thought it was absolutely amazing. The space is huge, the presentation is great and the art is fantastic. It obviously has some limitations, but with all the controversy surrounding the show, it far exceeded my expectations. “Art in the Streets” was meant to travel to the Brooklyn Museum in 2012 and it was announced yesterday that those plans have been canceled.
There are multiple theories about what is happening here. The museum is claiming that it is very expensive to transport the show across the country and I can definitely understand that (but isn’t the transportation of ALL art shows expensive?); however almost every story on the interwebs about the show cancellation doesn’t mention the moving fees as the main reason but instead cites the “safety and protection of the people from vandalism.”
I can assure you from meeting a ton of street artists that they have no intentions of hurting you, so PLEASE GET OVER YOURSELF! I’m not saying there are not bad seeds here and there, but in any group of people, there are always one or two that spoil it for everyone. This news is extra disappointing coming from the same place that houses Wall Street – real and proven criminals. These people really do hurt others and are allowed to roam free, while street artists are just trying to express themselves and will face criminal charges if caught with a roller and wheat paste!
Love or hate street art, I think the exhibit pleases even the toughest art critics because even if you don’t care for the art, you can’t deny the presentation of the show which has reproductions of several art galleries and has over 65 separate sections! This is a huge blow to New York’s cool factor and it is appalling that the same city that gave rise to Keith Haring and Basquiat is taking a huge step backward by saying no to celebrating the legacy of art in the streets.
Also, say what you will about the genre of street art and these “criminal activities,” but you will rarely find artists this organized to travel renegade style with the materials they use, be as dedicated to taking huge risks at all hours of the day and night and often for no financial gain!
So let me just sum up as I went on a bit longer than I expected: Freedom of expression – bad. Financial crimes that are affecting the masses negatively – good. Percentage of people in “the masses” – 99%. Percentage of people controlling the masses – 1%. It just takes a leader to emerge and the masses will follow. Is that going to be you? If you live in New York, think of all those vacant hours you have to fill now that you won’t be able to see “Art in the Streets.”