Living in Los Angeles is like living in a city where everyone can have their try at art making and being creative. As we’ve said time and time again, this is a city by and for creatives, that really has no overhead and opportunities are endless. We’re also home to some of the world’s best street art and are pushing the medium beyond just putting up stickers and doing stenciling on the sides of buildings…or, so we like to think. A few street artists are getting noticed for not quite the right reasons: their work is very okay and is a bit redundant and is oftentimes so ubiquitous that it pains your eyes to see them so much. Not that they are bad: they are just tired. Thus, we wanted to take a look at five current streets artists that we hope to kick things up a notch to make people go, “Woah: what the fuck?” instead of, “Ugh. This again.”
Fear Google has been around for some time and are known for placing stickers of robot heads, wheat pasted entranced monkeys, and photos of celebrity scandal photos around the city and state. Their campaign is to show everyone that they need to spend less time online and be careful how they interact online? I think? And, their work is supposed to scare us of Google? Not sure. What is apparent is that mainly their stickers are everywhere and just as visually annoying as those Windy City Gentleman stickers someone went crazy with a few years ago (and that still remain). Like many of these artists, there needs to be some diversification and real risk taken. If we are supposed to be fearing Google or be turned into luddites as a reaction to their artwork, we need to feel it: make us scared, inspire fear. All that we are fearing is redundancy now.
Free Humanity, like Fear Google, are working very hard to get their stuff out into the open for everyone to see. Their work usually consists of a veiled woman or simply the block lettered “Free Humanity” branding…and that’s about it, for the most part. Their intentions seem very valiant, although what they are trying to free seems a bit muddy as their work is the name, some nebulous quotes, occasional pop culture references, and lotuses sprayed and wheat pasted to things. Their Facebook and website state that “The Miracle is not to Walk on Water but To walk on the Green Earth,” which sounds like they, too, want us to get out of the city and be free of everything. Their pervasive work doesn’t inspire that thought but makes you think “Why is Audrey Hepburn in that veil?” and “‘Go on a living spree,’ what?” and “Obama is Che–huh?” Their motives are unclear and they need to break out of the same rectangular box formula of girl or celebrity plus quote or flower plus Free Humanity branding. We give them lots of credit for diversifying visuals, but they don’t inspire any want to free anything.
This Hollywood Life is a project by Manny Castro that he used to promote a show he had last year. It involved him throwing ruby red heels and large bags of coke around the city, some of them with the words “THIS HOLLYWOOD LIFE” tacked to them. They were *kind* of interesting to look at but mostly just inspiring of confusion as to why they were around and what they meant. Out of frustration, it seemed, people started to search for answers on who was behind the pieces and Manny’s name was revealed. It’s very quote-unquote ingenius that he promoted his work in such a guerrilla fashion and he may not even be putting anything up anymore (which is why all the red slippers are now faint, faint pink slippers). That being said, the pieces are still up and they now look even more annoying than when they first went up. Our challenge to Manny is to try to get his pieces removed or to initiate phase two. You caught our eyes with these silly things, but that was it? Come on: be better than that.
This is a tough one: Homo Riot. His work is very well intentioned and sometimes confrontational and, as a homo myself, great to see in the Los Angeles street art canon. The problem, like many, is that it just isn’t enough: the envelope is not being pushed far enough to inspire people to change or even go, “Woah: what is going on???” The rioting you get from queers in Homo Riot amounts to kissing and occasionally pee peeing around town, which is fun and cute. But, for pete’s sake, the Manhunt Mobile advertisements in November caused a bigger deal than the works! We want the Homo Riot pieces to be edgier and more in your face: wheat paste big penises and bottles of lube and start vandalizing existing billboards. Homo Riot should be like Butt or Pinups (both NSFW links, FYI), street edition–but in places where homo haters exist. That would be both provocative and like a giant fuck you to homophobes. And, it would almost paint the world as homonormative.
This guy, everyone. Franklin Marshall The Third is apparently a comedian and the face that is now everywhere is his branding for himself (well, his character). There is nothing else in his work that goes beyond this face being wheat pasted or spray painted around, sometimes with the catchphrase “…kay.” Why? Why are we being subjected to this? Can’t this face be confined to only Facebook or Twitter? You can’t leave your apartment or go for a drive or nice walk without seeing this silly promotional head. It really is quite absurd work and, frankly, the only way this work can change is if it morphs into not-this-work. All it is adding to the Los Angeles street art canon is silliness–and not the type of silliness art people would be proud of.
We hope to see those artists kick up their game and we will definitely be on the look out to see if they do. We are very lucky to live in a city where artists like Retna, Shepard Fairey, Skullphone, Buff Monster, JR, Anthony Lister, Ron English, Chase, Bue, and even somewhat silly Mr. Brainwash frequently take to the street with their art when they visit. If we are fostering the next generation of artists born from the streets, we want to be proud of them. As of now, we’re just tolerating them: make us proud, guys.