I was a bit skeptical at the idea of MOCA’s Street Art Exhibit at first.
words/photos: Ani Yapundzhyan
I wasn’t too comfortable with the idea of throwing all these amazing creations in a museum and having wealthy bourgeois snobs pass by calling it “art” when they would scoff at the same artwork if it was hit up on a wall in the street.
But what happened when I started walking through the endless hallways filled with decades worth of work representing our culture was the astounding sense of history that overcame me.
One by one, those artists are amazing. But put them all together-over 50 massive installations-and you realize the sheer enormity of the culture of street art.
The Graf artists are plentiful, spanning through decades – Futura, Haze, Swoon, Retna, Saber, Revok, and Cartoon to name a few.
Then there are the photographers and filmmakers who captured these moments in time- Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Steve Grody, Estevan Oriol, Terry Richardson and Spike Jonz among many.
There is a special section dedicated to the “Fun Gallery” which connected New York graffiti artists with the downtown art community in the early 1980s. Included in this are works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, who shaped the Fun Gallery’s history.
Shepard Fairey and Banksy have their signature work up.
Twist has put together one of my favorite installations, complete with three robotic graffiti artists up on each other’s shoulders, standing on a van, hitting up a wall.
This is the tip of the massive iceberg.
Rightfully preserved under glass as artifacts are dozens of graf books from different artists, showing their pieces from the early 80’s. Also under the same glass are hundreds of markers in different colors used by the artists.
Spray cans line the walls.
The entire women’s restroom is hit up. There is a huge pink piece going across all the doors to the stalls.
It is truly overwhelming. Something I have to come back and see again, just to capture each and every detail.
The history of street art is most definitely preserved on those walls.
I happened to go on one of the opening days, so to me, the best part of the entire exhibit was that most of those legendary artists were present, walking around, signing books and talking to the people.
It truly was historic. And unprecedented.
For many, it was an emotional experience.
It is the blood, sweat and tears of the street inside of a museum.
The exhibit runs through August 8th, and if you go on a Thursday, you can view the art the way you would on the streets that it came from: for free.