Friday, January 30, 2009

Guerilla art at Los Angeles Art Show and Art L.A.

When I heard about LA Art Show and Art LA coming to town, I thought it would be fun to go set up right out front and paint. So I did! First I went to Art LA at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. When I got there, I asked the security (traffic control) guys if they minded if I set up and painted the building. They were surprisingly receptive to the idea. I got set up right across the street from the main entrance to the event.

After I set up, did a quick lay of the land and finished a landscape of the scenery, I pulled out the rest of my work and moved on to painting some more fun subject matter. I was worried about the weather, and I was prepared to tough it out, thinking I would get some serious street cred if I stayed and painted in the rain, but in the end the day was sunny and beautiful.

A little later in the day my friend Quam Odunsi came by and snapped some pics. It's always good to see a familiar face when I'm out in the field.

I have to admit that the experience was not as exciting as I had anticipated. I was expecting to either have a run in with the authorities, or at least get some attention from the many people going in and out of the venue. In the end it was just a pleasant day painting outside. Most of the people there were actually ignoring me! "Don't make eye contact with the street artist, dear." I felt like a homeless person. Perhaps acknowledging art out on the sidewalk would have changed the status of the work inside. Maybe they did not want the idea of paying to see art to be challenged by my presence. It really makes you think about how context can play such an important role when it comes to showing art.

Speaking of context, the next day I set up in a completely different setting. I went downtown to see the LA Art show at the convention center. It turned out that a Lakers game was just about to start when I got there, so traffic was a nightmare. I had to pay $20 to park two blocks away. After spending an additional $15 to get in, I perused the many isles of expensive contemporary art. I must admit that I had a great time and saw some great work. Along the way I ran into Bert Green from Bert Green Fine Art. He took a moment to talk to me about the show. I said that after the cost of parking and the entrance fee, LA Art Show did not seem like it was really accessible to the general public. He brought up a good point in stating that this event was not for the general public, but for art buyers, most of whom do not find $40 cost of attending a major obstacle. He then went on to remind me that the galleries themselves are usually free and open to the public. I agreed, especially in this economy, it's hard enough selling work without your attention being spread thin by non-buyers. I hope you made some sales, Bert.

After the sensory overload the show, I went out front to find a place to set up. It turned out that the front of the convention center is also right next to the Staples Center. I got set up and started painting right as the game got out.

A lot more people stopped to check me out than the day before. Interesting. I suppose a painter set up outside a basketball game is a bit unusual. Perhaps worth taking a look at. But a painter set up outside a bourgeois art fair does not even deserve a glance over the shoulder? It goes to show, context is everything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good work Max! Glad it turned out well.