Earlier this week, I inhaled my year’s quota of aerosol paint fumes as I watched some of today’s best Graffiti artists scramble to put the finishing touches on plywood reinforced walls at Little Tokyo’s Hold Up Art. The artfully spray painted walls are part of this month’s “Hi-Graff,” an installation-based street art exposition set to explore the concept of Graffiti as a contemporary art movement.
According to Hold Up Art Co-owner and Curator, Brian Lee, who took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit’s creation process, the past few days of setting up the gallery have consisted of a lot of beer drinking and strange highs from paint fumes. “It’s fun while it lasts but the next morning you just hate yourself,” jokes Lee.
As I stepped over plastic tarps, dodged ladders, and avoided leaning against wet paint, I mingled with artists and watched as Hold Up’s walls transformed. Among those setting up for the show was Chor Boogie, the only “Hi-Graff” participant from outside the Los Angeles Graffiti scene. As he stood in front of an arsenal of more spray paint colors than I knew existed, Boogie added additional layers to his wall. “I brand my style as emotional landscape and melodic symphony through color therapy or a street romantic voodoo,” says Boogie.
The San Francisco-based artist explained that the verse “Goose steppin’ over the innocence,” which is inscribed in the center of his work in the show came from a verse from a favorite MC DJ of his named El-P. “This is how governments are taking over the innocence. It’s crazy out there.
Hi-Graff Timelapse Video at Hold Up Art in Los Angeles
Another source of inspiration for his wall, according to Boogie, was the yards and tunnels that he used to see growing up. “I used to see them all written up, bombed up, and tagged up and stuff and I just basically wanted to turn that memory into something timeless and incorporate my artwork with that emotion.”
In addition to Chor Boogie, “Hi-Graff” features works by: Vyal, Slick, Defer, Risk, Cryptik, Rick Ordoñez, Cache, Codak, Spurn, Alec Monopoly, Augor, Zes, ROOTSYSTM, Coto, Midtz, Cyrcle, Teal, and Free Humanity.
“Hi-Graff” is currently on display at Hold Up Art through June 2nd. According to Lee, after the show is completed, wall art will be taken down, reinforced with 2×4 structures and auctioned off in a warehouse downtown. Proceeds will go to the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District (LADad), an organization that exists to promote the culture of the art environment downtown.
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