Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TAG You're IT / ART IN THE STREETS at the Geffen

Ordinarily, this space is reserved for local theatre and how I feel about the shows I've been invited to review. This show, however, is theatre of the streets and it's a must see. It's down and dirty and utterly undeniable.

I've not seen the whole show at the Geffen Contemporary which opened on April 17th and rocks (literally) until the first week in August, but this is the summer to find your way to Little Tokyo and take in the MoCA tribute to artwork that makes some of us pretty uncomfortable. For the first time in recent memory, Frank Gehry's re-model of a former Los Angeles City Garage, is loaded to the gills with color, sound and controversy.

ART IN THE STREETS is touted as "the first major historical exhibition of graffiti and street art to be organized by an American museum..." Indeed, it's a survey of grandiose proportions. It is simply not to be missed for anyone who lives in the 21st Century. Dwellers from a time gone by may squirm a bit as they wait in line to see what many may find not so much 'art' as simply visual vandalism. The show includes current artistic trends, graffiti, music, dance, film and fashion. It is unlike any art show you have ever seen.

A free symposium/workshop sponsored by Levi's© invites anyone to create amazing video using state of the art equipment. The space looks like Mole-Richardson in spades with lights and other film making gear stacked in racks to the ceiling. Evidently, there are knowledgeable folks behind the counter to offer advice and coach aspiring film makers. This is hands on fun.

When you make the trek to see ART IN THE STREETS, be prepared for a long visit. It might be an idea to see part of the show and then hit Little Tokyo for some lunch and then go back again. The entire space, including the huge south galleries are packed with installation after installation that will simply blow your mind. What may be a tribute to Paul McCarthy's huge animated installations catches us off guard as we head to the dark north east corner of the Geffen. There we see three taggers caught in the act, standing on a ratty old van, spray painting what looks like "AMAZO" on the wall. It's grunge and grit and a comment on the fact that there is art going on in the dead of night and in the least likely places one can imagine. It's powerful and colorful and eclectic. I challenge anyone who attends to not have an opinion.

Highlights for me include an amazing East L.A. customized low rider and an ice cream truck so tricked out that one could spend hours just examining them. Another grand installation features large lacy stencils casting shadows on billowing folds of white material that drape harem-like in its own small gallery.

Familiar artists include Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, Spike Jonze and Banksy.

MoCA Members go to the head of the line. Join the museum! Tell a friend.

For more information:
Call 213 626 6222

April 17 through August 8th, 2011

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