Tagger vandalizes Little Tokyo Gold Line station; ties to graffiti art exhibit suspected
A tagger has vandalized the Little Tokyo Gold Line station across from the "Art in the Streets" exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary museum, transit deputies said Tuesday.
Workers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority quickly painted over the graffiti, which appeared over the last several days and which investigators suspect was related to the Geffen's graffiti exhibit, said Sgt. Augie Pando of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Dozens of tags, including monikers and larger "bombs" turned up on several commercial buildings behind 1st Street, as well as on dumpsters and light poles within a stone's throw of the museum's entrance.
LAPD Officer Jack Richter told The Times that there had been "an enormous amount of vandalism in the Little Tokyo area, near the MOCA entrance."
"We respect the rights to have an art exhibition, but we demand the security of other people's property," said Brian Kito, president of the Little Tokyo Public Safety Assn. and owner of Fugetosu-do sweet shop, the oldest business in the area.
"We are welcoming people that appreciate street art, but we hope they are not inspired to show off their work on the buildings outside," Kito said.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA website describes "Art in the Streets" as the "first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art."
The exhibition, which opened Sunday and runs through Aug. 8, traces the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s "to the global movement, concentrating on key cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Sao Paulo, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved," the MOCA website states.
The exhibition features paintings, mixed-media sculptures and interactive installations by 50 artists, emphasizing Los Angeles' "role in the evolution of graffiti and street art, with special sections dedicated to seminal local movements, such as cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture."
Museum director Jeffrey Deitch told The Times last week that the exhibit 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."
He said the museum is "making an extra effort" by instructing security guards patrolling outside the museum to keep an eye on the surrounding neighborhood.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: An example of tagging in a downtown Los Angeles alley near the Geffen Contemporary, where an exhibition on graffiti and street art opened Sunday. Credit: Bob Chamberlin /Los Angeles Time.