Today……I met some amazing people and we enjoyed art on the streets of Downtown L.A. together…Ah..the youth – they light up the world!
…I met a MASTER Body Art Tattooist (she’s currently a highly talented henna artist that’s been doing this work for centuries)…
…And a Genius Marine Biologist decoding every sound vibration of dolphins and hammer head sharks off the coast of New Zealand, deciphering through sacred mathematics (I know you heard the artist in there)
…I also met the First Curator of “Global Mural Space,” the future’s global organization organizing mural art on prominent buildings in every major city on each continent, including Mars.
They understand the value of public art – of freedom of expression – of peace through art – art in itself – that a community can flourish with diversity of culture AND perspective.
That colors and form and individual styles have value. Now……………………how cool is that?
SO ON THIS DAY, the downtown LA Graffiti Art Scene had a 3-Block Art Party.
As much as I was intrigued by the spectre of the walls, I must admit that my biggest fascination was with the human spirit – encapsulated by the youth and their sense of curiosity and awesomeness (plus, the stunning amazement for many who rode the Metro Subway for the first-time –a really magnificent experience I must say!); the passion of artists committed to create…let me repeat..CREATE. not destroy. CREATE. Create what? Something else, something new, an alternative to what we see everyday… a new perspective… a new way to converge… a new way to emerge… a way to relate… a way to accept… to create peace …through a piece.. hmm..
And I must say, that I am fascinated by the passion of those who GET IT. Of course, I was thinking about the amazing teachers who were guiding their students throughout the day – inserting gems of wisdom, while making sure that the head count was the same at every stop. And of course, I was thinking about those who are support IT in other ways. In their work life or maybe even life’s passion…through their words of support, their appreciation… or maybe just taking the time to reflect on it… or maybe it’s that person who can simply acknowledge art’s existence and recognize it has value.
I subscribe to it all – the love of creating peace. Piece by piece. Lending your ears and your voice…so we can have a conversation..that’s peaceful…that’s FULL of PEACE. Gaze at an image or gaze into the eyes of one as one speaks… deeply gaze… and SEE. That there is more, way more than what meets the eye. Our eyes can demonstrate peace… a peace of knowing…or getting there…AND THEN…BEING there.
Am I making any sense?
For me, the peace is seeing the lightbulb go on, a spark go off, the lightning striking….
So here’s a short departure from this inward voice…
Los Angeles, as of 2011, has the world’s largest concentration of murals, making it the center of street art around the globe. In L.A., 64+ murals exist, covering over 100,000 square feet of wall space. That’s A LOT ofwall.
Cut. Here’s Teacher Mr. Davis discussing his conscious decision to wear his new tee-shirt, with an image of Tahrir Square. Side note: after the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (Liberation) Square, most recently known as the focal point for the Egyptian People’s Uprising and Revolution in 2011. Through wearable art, Mr. Davis connects what’s happening in the streets of Egypt with what’s happening in the streets of LA – READ: Occupy LA, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wallstreet. And as I skim the crowd, I know that their ears and eyes are open. Their mind is open. They know what’s goin’ on. With an intuitive eye and ear, Mr. Davis calls out his students to be attentive to the tour and what is being said by the Graffitti Artist known as “Vyal.” Re-asserting his desire for them to be attentive and creating a new communication system, he tells the students, “be present, are you listening? Show me you’re listening…put you’re fists up if you’re listening.” Notice…“Fists up if you’re listening.”
Derrick Lahoda started LA Free Walls Project 2 years ago. In the caption, he's talking about the significance of the LA mural scene and it's context in the world. It’s a project that brings graffiti artists to create art on a wall. Later I discovered that it’s also an entirely self-funded project. Yes indeed. Lahoda describes how murals present the beauty in life. Lahoda states that, “Murals are a voice of humanity. Often times when we see all that’s going wrong in the world, we can look at the murals and the artists making them to see what’s right.”
“Where do you get your inspiration?”
Vyal was the only graffiti artist present to talk about his work. Born in Monterey Park and raised in Montebello, he started his graffiti art interest as a 13-year old.
A young man in our group raises his hand – “Where do you get your inspiration?” Without hesitation Vyal shares how in his younger days, heavy metal and CD covers influenced his creations. He was self-taught. As a youngster, “instead of partying, he chose to stay home to draw.” A self-identified nerd who makes graffiti art. Even if he does look like an oversized WWF Wrestler (his words, not mine) in a Metallica getup. His talk elaborates on the process of graffiti art-making – utilizing various lettering techniques, styles, and the collaboration process that artists engage in when sharing wall-space. [CHECK-OUT this youtube clip of VYAL painting – with heavy metal in the background.]
Did you know that there’s a difference between graffiti art and graffiti vandalism? For Vyal, early on he recognized that doing graffiti art would get him further than the alternative (read:vandalism), declaring – “Graffiti artists just want to paint.”
Factoid: Right now, it’s illegal to make murals in Los Angeles. I know, crazy, isn’t it? Didn’t I just mention earlier that LA is the mural center of the world?… Hmm, while this is true, a moratorium was set in 2002 making it illegal to put new murals up. The Conservancy, LA Free Walls, along with others are adding their efforts to change this. READ MORE HERE
Interesting thought: While it’s not the case for all graffiti artists, it’s been stated that graffiti art has the reality of being at the crossroads of gang violence. Vyal shared how several of his friends had been killed or shot while painting murals during the time of a drive-by.
In a profound expression of global unity, the artist Vyal along with several other artists, were invited to Gaza in Palestine this past summer, to paint murals. His invitation to paint symbolized a hope that could be carried on by a global community of artmakers outside of Palestine, as Palestinian artists themselves have been persecuted for expressing their beliefs in their own country. They’re persecuted for painting walls. In 10 days, Vyal painted 9 of them. And in that period of time, he reports seeing and experiencing the heavy militarization of Palestine ~ the explosives within earshot distance from his hotel. I’ll save the details. His talk brings forth the artist as a PEACE-Creator through art. The artist exchange from country to country is a peace exchange and actually, a Circulation of Peace…
Factoid: Did you know? – That it’s considered “Aggressive” to paint over another mural/graffiti art piece? Yes, it is. In Downtown LA’s artist district there’s a piece called “Peace in Congo” by the non-profit organization, “Falling Whistles” is a controversial piece because it was pasted over an existing mural. Because of miscommunication between the artist, building owner, and organizers, the new piece was put up…over an existing one which was a collaboration project between artists in LA and in New Zealand.
Who doesn’t know about Shepherd Ferry? OBEY… OBAMA, BE THE CHANGE… This piece right here is called “Peace Goddess.” Significant because it is the first piece curated by LA FREE WALLS PROJECT- and I would add, the image of a goddess overhead is pretty darn gorgeous and revealing; and….. Controversial, because apparently with this piece, an unrecognized artist posted ON TOP of the original piece, damaging it. Why? To ride on the notoriety of Ferry’s famous name. It was restored days later and with the fine and remorse of the offending artist. Lesson learned.
ONE LAST COMMENT to close all comments.
CREATIVITY is REAL and makes a difference. Artists create for many reasons – it’s a response, it’s a feeling, an urgency, a beckoning, a necessity, it’s something that parts of society can try to ignore, debase, be offended by, and reject but it doesn’t devalue its importance or deny its existence. In speaking of it, writing of it, seeing it posted up all over a wall as we walk through its doors, see through its windows, cast a shadow on it when walking by, or in giving it an un/conscious stare– the color, the form, and the energy in the painting becomes real, and this energy fuels the artist to keep making, for us to keep engaging, to strive for something more – or the option of having something else.
So maybe the lightbulb goes on and an awakening occurs…
Perhaps the flash sparks, and a glimmer of LIGHT continues flashing…
And what if lightning strikes… and a whole new reality emerges from the spot that was stricken, bringing a dream into life…
PIECE Out -
Liza Sat Akal Camba
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