Tuesday, November 5, 2013
When MELROSEandFAIRFAX started, our only goal was to shine some limelight on all the incredible art blanketing the streets of LA. That was it. Just one modest goal.
Without a doubt, M&F has more than surpassed the initial landmark.
Over the years, M&F has built itself from a local neighborhood blog, into the lead street art blog for Los Angeles, and from there, M&F has maintained a 2-year stranglehold in online rankings as the #1 Street Art Blog in the USA, and, currently, ranked #2 in the entire world. Pretty damn impressive for a blog that is mainly focusing on illegal work from local talent in the neighborhood~
The resolve of this blog cannot be questioned. Hard work is what led to M&F's success. No one spent more time on the streets than this blog. And no single source (online, print or what-have-you) has put more effort trying to capture and document the actual action on the streets.
Just in terms of sheer numbers alone, here are some stats. M&F has been around for 4 years. Over that time, we have averaged 10+ posts per day, and not missed a single day of posting in over 3+ years straight. M&F has made 14,581 total posts and has thousands of visitors from all over the world visiting the site each and every day.
M&F believes it is the best street art blog ever not because of the stats, but because we stayed true to the streets. That's what street art is about, right? Street art. Not public art. Not gallery art. That stuff is boring. Street art is the stuff that doesn't need a permission slip. That's what makes it exciting. And for 4 years, M&F has constantly captured the action on the streets, broadcast it to the world, and in doing so, explained and detailed the nuances of the streets. There is no other site who has taken on this type of task, and no one who has remained so completely dedicated to the mission. M&F didn't get to the top of the street art world by grabbing the biggest names and trying to capitalize on that. No, we worked from the streets up, trying to gather nickels and pennies to make a buck. M&F didn't just post pictures. We told the story. M&F was the main source to find out the backstory of what street art is -- how every little tag has an origin, how every artist climbs from humble beginnings towards the top, how every little beef has a story, and how every little mark has a meaning.
Sometimes it was difficult. Especially how M&F represented the general street art community but M&F did not always feel supported by the community. We understand that this genre is composed of people who by their very definition are rule-breakers, ego-maniacs and outlaws. It takes big balls to get up in LA, and even bigger balls, and a thick skin, to remain in this community for any time--especially in the position of a public figure. M&F was proud to be tougher than the haters, and the nay-sayers never stopped M&F from doing or saying whatever was needed to be said or done. And all the hate never stopped M&F, not even for a single day. But it is sad, because its hard to hold any community together when the hate is stronger than the shared bond. This situation might be similar to the way that Banksy is reviled in some graffiti circles. In the graffiti and street art worlds, currently, disdain is kind of like a badge of success. M&F believes that the street art and graffiti community, as a whole, have some growing up to do. If there is going to be a productive community, its got to be supportive of each other. Battle the ideas that keep people down. Battle the authorities. Battle the buffman. But don't waste time and energy battling each other. The street art community will finally come into its own when people stop bickering within the community, and come together, as a whole, to fight the good fight. Remember people, its us against them--not us against us.
Our favorite pieces of street artist are not necessarily painted by the most skilled artists. M&F's favorite street pieces are the ones that pack a message. Street art is not just decoration. Street art is a public forum, and the best art is a catalyst for change. Street art should aim make the world better a better place, both through ideas, and imagery.
M&F encourages artists getting up to remember that the streets are the highest prize. Like Banksy says, art was brought inside at the will of the church and institutions. That was a blip and a mistake. Art is for the people and the streets are for the masses. To be explicitly clear, fuck the galleries and museums. There should be no greater pinnacle for any street artist other than getting up with an awesome new piece on the streets.
Street art is the biggest art movement the world has ever known, not because of online blogs, or Instagram, or Facebook. Street art is massive because you can travel to any corner of this globe and it is there. M&F has personally been to 46 states and a few continents ourselves, and seen it everywhere from the backwoods of Kentucky to the S. Dakota Badlands. In every city, in every small town, on every little abandoned shack and in every overgrown corner, folks are getting up. Its not about where you live. Its about the human need to express one's self in their environment. What graffiti has done is re-connect modern humans with our inherent, innate and primal need to mark territory. Tagging is the modern version of piss and cave writing. Street art is the biggest art movement the world has ever known because it gives a public voice to each and every person. Even as net neutrality is dying on the internet, the streets remain the one free place to speak your voice--at least until you get caught. And, once again, that's what makes street art so fuckin' exciting, right? These are not merely artists, these are outlaws risking life and liberty to share their message. And the street art movement will just keep growing. Wherever someone feels like they don't have a voice, the strong begin to speak up. Street art is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger. Indeed, a voice on the streets is the best weapon the people have. Stay up~
M&F has been telling this story for the past 4 years. And we have been so involved that this was not just a blog, this has been a lifestyle. Which is what makes it so necessary to take a break, and also so hard. The story on the streets is never-ending, which is makes it difficult to step away. Even now, we feel there are stories that need to be told and posts that ought to be made. But not by M&F, and not now. This is not a closed door and M&F is not gone forever. The return door is still cracked open. M&F might be back and pick up where we left off. We plan still be writing, and still be invested in the street art scene--and we even plan to post again on MELROSEandFAIRFAX at some point. However, we are aware that with something like a blog, it doesn't pick up where it was left off. If we ever wanted to regain the status the blog now has, that it would take much hard work to build it back up. Half of M&F's heart is still on the streets, but to try an live a balanced life, M&F will be taking some time off the blog so that we can focus on some of our other passions.
Thank you to all the artists who make the streets a better place. Thank you to all the photographers and contributors who made things happen. Thank you to all the fans who drove the success of M&F. Thank you to the beautiful City of Los Angeles -- it is the best place we have found in 46 states.
That's it. For now.~
Thank you for an absolutely amazing month. The roller coaster was spectacular. It was like the grown-up, street art equivalent of having Christmas every day. The excitement, the anticipation, and our eye-popping at the spectacles could not be matched. Like a symphony conductor, you played the masses, masterfully pulled and plucked at our heart strings. Thank you~
On a personal note, a Banksy image was the first street art that M&F ever personally witnessed on the streets. As a young teenager, someone painted the image of your copper flipping the bird in our neighborhood, and your image spoke to us and stuck with us. The image was not painted by you, but by some random Banksy fan in middle America years ago, but that doesn't change things. Basically, your street art became our first street love. And we still love you~
While running this blog, M&F has seen how Banksy's influence is as big or greater than the rest of the entire worlds of graffiti and street art combined. For what its worth, M&F would like to extend an open apology to Banksy from graffiti writers of the world and the street art community. Basically, nearly every graffiti writer that hates on Banksy is just jealous of your success, and every street artist wanting to be Banksy wants your success, but without understanding what it takes to get there. Like you say, people should not eat to shit. Instead of hating on your fame, or trying to snag a piece of it, true artists should emulate and learn from your example.
Banksy has conquered every mountain in the art world one achievement at a time. When Banksy wasn't a household name, you began painting animals (that time you painted the cow was where M&F first heard your name, and never forgot it since. To be clear, not that 'paint animals' should be the lesson learned, rather keep it fresh by doing what no one has done before and what no one expects). When graffiti was not considered fine art, you invaded the world of fine art with graffiti. When museums would not have your art, you broke the rules to put it in there anyway. And somewhere along the line, your art works began to command colossal financial success. But unlike many other artists, that was not your end game. It is so disappointing how many artists will work for years on crafting a unique and personal look or aesthetic, and then, once a deep pocketed advertiser comes along, they sell their aesthetic out for a paycheck. What is up with that? It cheapens the art because all of a sudden it not art, but just another cool advertisement for so-and-so company. Its the artistic equivalent to selling your soul. But Banksy, the biggest reason you are such a hero is that you achieved everything, and did it all without selling your artistic soul. You did it all without selling out, or compromising what got you to where you are. In fact, once you got to the absolute top of the art world, you bring it back home to basics. Back to the streets. Back to where art should be. Boom.
Yes, thank you for the entertainment, but even more so, thank you for bringing art back to its roots. In the modern world, art has lost its way, and lost touch with the people. As you pointed out, generations ago, art got taken inside in service to the institutions and the church. Now, these days, art is assessed by its value, not its content. People are told what good art is, instead of experiencing good art and being able to explain why that art is impactful to them. This has made art boring, and generally a subject that most people are uncomfortable about giving opinions on or an honest opinion about. Art, in the art world, is about fake, money driven posturing. But none of this is real art. Art doesn't matter how much it costs or what the critics say. Art happens when it influences people, and the best place to influence people is outside, on the streets. Your month long exhibition was a powerful demonstration and testament to the powers of art. Banksy, you have conquered both the streets and the auction houses. We always knew you were prophetic, but now we think that you might be a prophet. Moses set out the 10 Commandments after climbing down from the mountain. In a similar way, Banksy has climbed every mountain in the art world, and now he brings the art back to the masses. Galleries now want your art. Museums now want your art. Nearly every art establishment in the world wants your art! And you want to give the art back to the people. That is just fucking awesome. Thank you for stealing art back from the institutions, and offering it back to the people. Indeed, Better Out Than In.~
Banksy, your name is bigger than the rest of the street art world combined. You are a role model for the scene, and beyond. Throughout it all, you have continued to fight the good fight. You have become the greatest artist of this generation. You have achieved it all on your terms. All the while, you have utilized your ever-growing fame to do quiet acts of humanitarianism, while for the public at large, you are banging a loud drum for change. You might be a career vandal, but modern politicians, media giants, celebrities and other so-called 'role models' would benefit from emulating you as a model.
Banksy, you are King of the Graffiti World, King of the Art World, and our best hope for shaking things up on the streets in the future. Thank you for being the only hero worth looking up to.~
Monday, November 4, 2013
Well, Banksy's New York Accent lasted the entire month of October. Now, it finally got crossed out by some hater. As you can see, Banksy's accent got 'accented' by a bunch more New York accent's.
Click the jump for a final random and huge look at many pieces from BanksyNY during Better Out Than In.
Stay up and stay musical!~
These hand painted pieces from There She Is and You Killed Me First are some of the brightest shining stars along the streets of Los Angeles.
Its these little moments that are so special, when you are going down a street in LA, and all of a sudden you become confronted by a colorful hand painted work of art. Boom. That's what street art is all about. Its kind of like magic~
Here are two giant hand painted pieces from There She Is and You Killed Me First. Click through for a tremendous glimpse at these awesome pieces. Go ahead, and take a trip to YKMF's street level amusement park.
This mural seems to capture everything that is wrong with street art and its lost values.
At face value, this is a mural painted by Kai Aspire. The piece is entitled 'Lost Values', and it is re-assigning Louis Vuitton's 'LV' to mean 'Lost Values'.
At face value, it is pretty weak. The art is lame. The message doesn't say anything. And why any street art piece would be talking about 'lost values' in the uber-rich fashion world is a stretch to say the least. Louis Vuitton and street art? What do they have in common? Nothing but lost values and poor artists.
But even though it wasn't intended, this piece works perfectly on a deeper level. Like we say in the opening sentence, this mural seems to capture everything that is wrong with street art and its lost values.
Kai Aspire is not just another street artist. Kai was born with a silver paint brush in his hand. Kai is the nephew of Mr. Brainwash, and Kai's father owns this wall where the mural was painted. In fact, years ago, this wall used to be organic street art. Meaning that art just used to pop up on this wall on its own. Then, 3 years ago, the Guetta family started curating this wall. The best part is that the art did keep changing with constantly rotating murals, but the worst part is that the move transitioned this wall from 'street art' to 'public art'. Strike one.
Strike 2 is the focus of the content itself. Like we say, street art and fine fashion have nothing in common. And any street artist thinks that fashion empires like 'Louis Vuitton' demonstrate 'lost values', well, then the artist is the one with the lost values. Like here. Street art should pack a message worthy of the streets. Not just this piece, but street art in Los Angeles in general seems to be failing to spread a worthy message.
Strike 3 is to pretend to be something you're not. And since Warhol, their has been a movement in the art world that says a factory is okay--the factory concept is the idea that the artist does not have to paint every stroke, someone else can do the work and yet the art is still considered an original. Okay, fine. We understand the factory concept. But what Kai is doing seems beyond the scope of Warhol's factory. You see, Kai paints murals like this one, and the one pictured below. Actually, the one pictured below provides the perfect example of what Kai did and didn't do. Kai did paint his name on the right. You can see from the thick brush strokes and uncontrolled drips how Kai literally has no skill with the brush. And now, compare that to the image next to Kai's signature. It is a masterfully blended image of Kanye West dressed up in medieval clothing. The art skill is seriously stunning, but it is clear that the image was not painted by Kai. The image on the wall was actually wheat pasted, but it is an enlarged image of a painting that Kai attempted to sell at a previous art show, as his own work. What!? A lot of folks in the community were outraged at Kai's first show because he did not paint the art that he was selling. Forget the factory concept, when did it become anything other than fraud to pretend something you didn't make, is yours? Talk about lost values . . .
Okay. So this mural has technically already struck out. But there are still more egregious things wrong with it. Basically, and 'technically' this entire mural is not even 'art'. This is an advertisement. In fact, if you were to take this mural and shrink it down into postcard size, then this would be a flyer for Kai's show. It is not art because the information on the flyer tells the viewer where to buy what the artist is selling. The viewer is not allowed to interpret the image or message, when it is done this way the viewer is instructed where to 'shop'. Like we say, this is not art, this is a painted advertisement. For an art show with paintings that the artist did not paint focusing on issues that are irrelevant to life and the streets.
Finally, the only time Kai does anything on the streets is right before he is about to have an art show. As M&F has said before, the streets are not a platform to a gallery. The streets are the real prize. And if you only put up a handful of street pieces in order to hype a gallery show, well, that is not really a street artist. Don't know exactly where to draw the line, but that is not a street artist at all. That's someone trying to use the streets for advertisements. Not street art, an insult to the streets.
Street art needs to dump some baggage, get back into touch with what its about, and remedy these 'lost values'.
Stay up, Los Angeles!
Then, the stop sign got completely tagged over by someone who didn't share the dream saying 'Fuck That'. In addition to an onslaught of supportive stickers.
Well, the dream never dies. Never stop dreaming, because the sign is back. Not sure if it was the buffman who buffed the tags and stickers off, but the sign is back and the dream is alive. Never stop dreaming!
Sunday, November 3, 2013
(***An 'eternal' classic flashback***)
Well, Banksy's original piece didn't last long. Less than a day before it was defaced.
But here is a great series of the lucky ones who got to visit Banksy's inspirational piece before it was damaged.
Crazy combo in Los Angeles. Stickers getting up on all the signs and poles, like the action in all your mom's holes!
Slaps from YB, No Ideas, 4get, Kilz, Slap Shit Burn Marijuana, Tribal, Dufas, Hier, STFU, Bus, Xosk, SenX, Spray PID, Korsen, Killers, Word, Howe, Foer, Arson, Cyrcle, Jukes OES, Revok, Ahh'd Art and more.
(Only a few weeks old but Banksy's New York residency already feels like forever ago. Here is another classic flashback--this one featuring Banksy's Confessional. Note--these pictures were all captured before the Confessional was altered. Enjoy!--and fuck church!)
Religion is such a back-asswards way to live your life. Growing up, M&F used to be forced to go to church every single Sunday. And the preacher told us that the closer your sin was to Sunday, the greater the severity of that sin. So, don't know about you but M&F plans to sin big today on Sunday to score some big points in heaven. Highest score wins?
Fuck the churchgoers. For all you true-to-heart street art-goers, here is a Sunday sampling of Banksy's Concrete Confessional.
Stay up and keep sinning!
Bandit gets up on Day 3 of his month long series tributing Native Americans. This piece says 'Kizh Nation Shall Rise' and it features Toypurina, a female tribal war hero and the only native woman to lead a revolt against the Spanish.
Pasted up in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles.
Always dig strong female role models. Stay up!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Banksy's 'The Banality of the Banality of Evil' sold for $615,000 at an art house auction ending earlier this week, so how did Banksy's other pieces do?
The brick from Banksy's was originally listed at $666.69, and when that went unsold, it was relisted. The 2nd time it did sell for $78.77 with 8 bids. To be clear, this auction was just for one leftover brick from Banksy's Spinx installation, not the pyramid art work itself.
Banksy's Grumpy Asshole truck was also listed on Ebay for $120,000, and that auction ended unsold. There are some funny updates where the seller says that this is Banksy's best piece in the exhibition, and then threatens to keep it--if it doesn't sell. (M&F will take the piece if you don't want it, bro.~)
Click the jump to check out auction pics and updates
Banksy's graffiti wild cat got buffed.
The strongest thing M&F notices about this piece is how Banksy outlasted the haters. This was one of Banksy's last in New York, and it rode for days unprotected and untagged. Until it got buffed.
Street art doesn't last forever. But the strongest ones outlast the hate. Too bad the wild cat is buffed, but this piece was a victory for BanksyNY.
***Here is another Banksy feature that was written during Better Out Than In, but not posted til now. Enjoy~***
This piece by Banksy seems to be an aesthetic favorite among the fans
And it has ridden for days without being damaged or defaced. Even though the surrounding chain link fence is easy enough to hop, it seems enough to keep the toys and Omar's away.
Here is a return visit to Banksy's Wild Horses. This piece seems to be more about appreciating the art than interacting with it. Click the jump to check out more pics, including night time shots.