PASADENA, CA.- The Pasadena Museum of California Art
(PMCA) is showing the first museum exhibition that joins the work created by Los Angeles graffiti artists for a fine art context with their graffiti art made in the streets. Internationally renowned as one of the most fertile grounds for graffiti art, the City of Angels has its own idiosyncratic graffiti styles created from the innovative New York “wildstyle” that heralded the birth of graffiti as it is seen today, filtered through local influences such as gang writing styles that greatly predate the modern movement.
The artists for the exhibition have been consistently making influential public work, but their practice has expanded into work that is viewed in galleries and museums. Street Cred was first conceived in 2008 by PMCA Exhibition Manager Shirlae Cheng-Lifshin, who subsequently brought on Los Angeles graffiti historian Steve Grody as co-curator. Grody, who is the author of Graffiti LA, has been documenting high-quality work in the streets of Los Angeles since 1990. The exhibition includes his photographs from the crucial years of the graffiti scene, providing key insights into the visual “language” of graffiti, its development in Los Angeles, and the ways in which the street work informs the canvas work in the exhibition.
Ironically, the fine art production of these artists are meant for wider audiences than their graffiti works, so the artists incorporate a more universal pictorial language than the specialized typography evident in graffiti in situ, usually readable only to other graffiti artists. Yet the artistic skill and dialogue with modernism displayed by many of these artists demonstrates that their place in the continuum of art history is well deserved. Works in the exhibition are grouped according to style, further underscoring both the breadth and depth of this contemporary art movement. Taken as a whole, Street Cred shows how a genre born on concrete translates into canvas, and how the two worlds interact.
Artists featured in the exhibition include Chaz Bojórquez, Angst, Gajin Fujita, Retna, Saber, Revok, Kofie, Juan Carlos Muñoz, Push, Risk, Jeff Soto, Mear, Evan Skrederstu, Craola, Zes, Ewok, Haste, Michael Alvarez, Ekundayo, Codak, Skept, Siner, and Evol.