Art in the Streets featured at Geffen MOCA in Little Tokyo, LA.
All Photos by Label Networks

Street art and graffiti have always created a stir in the social consciousness of America and other cultures, not only for its freedom of expression in public spaces, but how the subculture of art has been hijacked, many think, but advertisers hoping to bring cred to a brand. But so goes the flow of marketing and the ironic origins of the movement that were as anti-marketing as it could get. Unless of course, one considers a tag as marketing of an individual artist.

“Art in the Streets” exhibition which is running from April 17-August 8, 2011 in downtown LA in Little Tokyo at the Geffen MOCA Museum is drawing massive crowds who, for many, are seeing the top global street and graffiti artists for the first time. The curators include Jeffrey Deitch, Aaron Rose, and Roger Gastman -all masters at creating interesting art shows and legends in the scene of street culture.

Andre from Paris and NYC featured prominately at the exhibition.

Capturing the beginning of graffiti styles, the exhibition takes the viewer from American housing projects and bleak subway yards in the ’70’s, to the “Wild Style” in New York with Fab Five Freddy, to the Sex Pistols’ Jamie Reid artwork and God Save the Queen, through to the cholo gang graffiti in East LA, and surf and skate culture in Venice, CA.

While wondering through the maze of different fonts, styles, colors, and messages, the show moves into large areas featuring Banksy, video productions from Cheryl Dunn and JR, Space Invader PacMan tiles, Andre’s stick figure man, Swoon’s massive stencil and paper cutouts, and Miss Vans faces on a rotating wheel.

Miss Van%uFFFDs spin the wheel.

The show is clearly a Who’s Who of artists, including Shepard Fairey, NeckFace, Mister Cartoon, Margaret Kilgallen, Retna, Barry McGee, Futura, and Kaws, but that being said, the show has come under criticism for the fact of who it’s also missing, such as important figures like Kofie, Zevs, and ManOne. It also helps to know the artists before you entire the madhouse because after the initial chronology, the place opens up to large rooms that are not easily defined, which is many ways, representative of the plethora and growth of street art and graffiti once it hit the ’90’s and 2000’s. The scene last weekend indicated that people of all ages are intrigued by graffiti and street art, but some older couples could be seen clearly shaking their heads and looking on with quizzical looks of bewilderment especially at the fonts and messaging.

The original work from Jamie Reid, the artist who created the look for the Sex Pistols.

For a new generation of youth culture, however, as we continuously chronicle in Label Networks, street art, graffiti, and their creators have created a movement that extends beyond art into changing the game of advertising, marketing, and culture jamming. Still on the lookout from getting busted by cops for their covert work in public spaces, on the flipside, many top artists in the genre are in serious demand from brands hoping to utilize the artists’ cred to translate into greater sales. Therein lies the irony, which is as ironic as Art in the Streets being featured for the first time in an American museum, and previous controversy when Blu and even JR’s pieces featured outside the museum and parking areas nearby, where whitewashed away.

Shepard Fairey area.

While there is a great deal of cool street art outside while waiting in line to enter the museum, the impact is upon entrance when you actually see all of this outside art, in one warehouse of an area, from artists around the world -many of whom still cover-up with hoodies, masks, or are completely incognito (Banksy). And there stands their freedom of expression. Creating a movement that has taken the world by storm, most notable recently, across parts of China.

Street art and graffiti is a movement that is still evolving, moving into altogether new spaces such as made-for-video performances or art revelations only. Or utilizing embedded QR codes to send even larger messages. Public environments make up the canvas and as they change, so too will the movement of street art and graffiti.

Among the amazing, colorful areas in the exhibition.

Old school…trains were where it was at and still continues today. King 157 is among the top in this genre.

This mural was enormous.

Some of the street art outside the musuem, including OS Gemeos creation stunned the crowd as they waited to enter.

RETNA from 7th Letter crew.

Huge section dedicated to Banksy. We were wondering if he was there for the install.

Car culture is obviously a huge part of graffiti and street art, especially old classics and lowriders.

Craig Stecyk, artist, photographer of the Dogtown scene in Venice, CA.

This area was called the Fun House, featuring many font street artists such as Futura, Risk, Push, and Barry McGee.

Blurry shot from a video from JR out on his latest project InsideOut for which he won the TED Prize. This was from the favela%uFFFDs in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Carnival fonts and artwork from the late street artist Margaret Kilgallen.

Graffiti art behind President Reagan.

Exit through the giftshop…

Swoon%uFFFDs incredible stencils and cut-outs. This piece was enormous and had reflecting shadows on curtains.

Smoker skater kid circa %uFFFD70s.

Space Invaderwas one of the artists on the outside and inside.

Shepard Fairey X Saber piece.