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MOCA's 'Art in the Streets' exhibition brings unwanted neighborhood effect: graffiti vandalism

April 14, 2011 |  4:24 pm


While museum director Jeffrey Deitch was unveiling his "Art in the Streets" exhibition Thursday at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in a preview for invited guests, the Los Angeles Police Department reported a spike in graffiti and vandalism in the museum's Little Toyko neighborhood.

Deitch addressed the media and a crowd that included Shepard Fairey, Fab 5 Freddy and other graffiti and street artists whose works are on display in the expansive survey, which opens to the public Sunday. The press event took place in front of a Metro bus newly painted by RISK, a Los Angeles graffiti artist.

As our sister blog LA Now reports here, the LAPD has noted dozens of tags, including monikers and larger so-called bombs showing up in the last two days on several commercial buildings behind 1st Street as well dumpsters and light poles within a stone's throw of the museum entrance.

LAPD Officer Jack Richter told LA Now, "We respect the rights to have an art exhibition, but we demand the security of other people's property."

Deitch told Culture Monster that MOCA anticipated that what's being billed as the first major U.S. museum exhibition on graffiti and street art could bring unwanted and unauthorized ancillary activity from "some of the young taggers who are anarchic. ... It's a language of youth culture, and we can't stop it. It goes with the territory."

But in hopes of minimizing the impact on neighbors, he said, "we're making an extra effort" by instructing security guards patrolling outside the museum to keep an eye on the surrounding neighborhood as well. Deitch declined to give specifics on what that would entail.

He said that if "Art in the Streets" proves to be a strong draw — its unprecedented nature makes it hard to predict attendance — it promises to be a boon to businesses in Little Tokyo. To that end, he said, MOCA is compiling a map-directory of shops and restaurants to hand to museum visitors during the run of "Art in the Streets."

One of the show's hoped-for intangible benefits, he said, is that taggers now spraying illegally might see the exhibition and raise their sights: "We want to put out an inspirational message: 'If you harness your talent you can be in a museum some day, make a contribution and a living from it.' "

"Art in the Streets" runs Sunday through Aug. 8 at the Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Ave.


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— Sherry Stern and Mike Boehm

Photo: Jeffrey Deitch in front of RISK's "One-Way Ticket" (2011) at the "Art in the Streets" press conference. Credit: Sherry Stern / Los Angeles Times.




Comments () | Archives (18)

Wow, street "art" sponsored by Nike, Levis, RVKA, and Urban Outfitters. It's like the Warped Tour of art shows.

Poor MOCA. Remember when it was actually a good museum?

Be proud and show your art legally.

it's RVCA, Mr. know-it-all. And since when is sponsorship of a non- profit a bad thing?

Wheres the like button , for the last comment???

If this is art then it should come as no surprise to anyone that MOCA is unable to survive without huge infusions of outside cash - mainly in the form of donations from the taxpayers. The MET in NYC on the other hand makes a profit from admissions. What's the difference? The MET exhibits art. MOCA exhibits vandalism.

LA is covered in graffiti. How can they tell there is more then usual?

What a jackass thing to do. Total disregard for the problems that unrestricted graffiti has brought to Los Angeles. I'm an artist, full time for many years, and in order to have a decent sized studio, we bought in San Pedro where we have to fight every day to keep the graffiti off of our building. We've had to replace windows repeatedly because they become scratched with names or are broken. I expect more from Moca than encouraging this. They might feel differently if they were constantly having to clean their building of graffiti or having to change out windows. Vandalism as art? Yeah, I guess so. Especially if it isn't in your backyard.

Joe, your comment about Street Art is vandalism in my eyes.

If this were a historical exhibition about "street art" it would include contemporary muralist practices (Judith Baca comes to mind), sculptural works in the city-scape (any artist from Sculpture Projects Münster ’07 comes to mind), or actionist groups (the collective Asco comes to mind). This is instead an exhibition of artists that Jeffrey Deitch thinks are really cool, and who Dietch had an interest in as a collector and dealer. It's a missed opportunity.

And this surprises who??

I want to know if, next to the "bombed" replica NY subway train, they have a replica jail cell with Michael Stewart hanging in it. He was a graffiti artist murdered by NY transit cops (none convicted). The irony and contradiction of a tax funded exhibit celebrating street art opening up just blocks from county jail where kids are doing jail time for practicing that same art is mind blowing.

Boy, Jeffrey Deitch just can't seem to get it right. He has made bad choice after bad choice since he took this gig. One would think he had never run a museum before...uh, never mind.

this guy is doing something new... and all you people suck at art just face it.... drugs crew and bkf are the future of art in general but you guys dont even understand it yet... what museum will it take for you guys to undertand

Why doesn't MOCA just publish a critique of the vandalism in the newspaper and tell them if they did good or bad, impossible to shame a tagger, but you can make them feel insulted with a true criticism by a pro Artist tagger, you might get better Art at least.

Who thought this wouldn't happen anyway, do they live in LA? The Public is EVERBODY. Live and learn from Art after all, it is who we are good, bad and anarchic.
An Artist


Where's Becca. Rick One, Skept, Defer, Heaven, Shandu, Tempt, Relic?

and what about Richard Ankrom's 5 Freeway Public Service, seen by millions?

Bob Zoell has figured it out...he's seen by more people every day than the average daily attendence at LACMA, Norton Simon, Getty and MOCA combined.

He at the Purple and Redline MTA crossing, San Francisco International and the Downtown LA Ralphs. I'm waiting for Jeffrey Dietch to give him a show.

For now , Jeffery's New York centered. Thanks to MOCA for cracking the doorway for a few "kids." Let's see how many can run through opening. - TK

MOCA needs to be on the business end of a nuisance lawsuit.

MOCA needs to post and publish a warning to let all the would be artists and their parents know that their street "art" is a felony. Big time up there with shootings. The kids need a place to paint and create their art. Throwing them into jail only teaches them more about drugs, crime and the worst of life and a record to carry with them. Not the recognition most of them are looking for and no clue what county jail is like.


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