Photo by Isabel Rojas-Williams
MOCA's "Art in the Streets began with a heavily documented whitewash a few weeks before the show opened. it ended with another Saturday, and only a few people caught it.
One lone observer was Art Historian and Executive Director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, Isabel Rojas-Williams, who says the whitewashing began shortly before noon at the Geffen. "I must say that we all probably knew that this whitewashing was to come once 'Art in the Streets' was no more at the Geffen Contemporary."
"The site had become a point of meeting for many of us since April, when the mural was originally painted. I, along with many others, would say to each other, 'Let's meet at Blade's mural.' "
"Homage to Blade" was a collaboration by street artists, and reveres New York graf pioneer Steven Ogburn. Its removal visually marks the end of the show that closed August 8. This mural was a last minute MOCA commission, replacing a KATSU tag, and completed as microphones were set up for the exhibition's press conference back in April.
Days after the final weekend of long lines, MOCA released a statement declaring the show broke attendance records set by the 2002 Andy Warhol retrospective. The Los Angeles Times crunched numbers and dates and said that even with the free Monday admission sponsored by Banksy, the Warhol retrospect would still be the highest ranked show––if it ran the same number of weeks.
And if you missed it, there may not be a second chance to see it.
The exhibition, with its strong lean toward New York street artists, was scheduled to be mounted at the Brooklyn Museum in March of 2012. But with New York polticians stating the show glorifies vandalism, mostly after heavy media coverage of increased tagging aroung Little Tokyo, there was also a fear it would bring back the days of heavy tagging in New York.
The "grand celebration of vandalism" could make New Yorkers "cringe recalling the days of graffiti-covered subway cars," said the NY Daily News.
In June, the Brooklyn Museum stated there was not enough funding to cover shipping and installation costs to mount the show, while denying the threat of risky behavior by attendees was the reason for the decision.