Beyond the Streets: The Proud Square Peg of Street Art & Beyond
The streets are the veins of a city, pulsating with collected culture and urbanity. When it comes to art within the past and present — the blood is thick. To celebrate the most recognized expression of art from the concrete catacombs of our world, look towards Chinatown. A curated kingdom dedicated to an exhibition of graffiti and street art, along with a groundbreaking showcase of paintings, photography, and sculptures has opened its doors to the public eye. This is Beyond The Streets, a visual celebration of concrete to canvas, here to acclaim over fifty years of the world’s most identifiable art form, and our generations aptitude of expression to centuries ahead.
Enter the showcase on 1667 N. Main Street to the sounds of train horns and police sirens, the way it should be. Curator and graffiti historian Roger Gastman doesn’t hold back, “Beyond The Streets was a real m*ther f*cker.” Understandably, as over one hundred artists were chosen to embody the culture and evolution of Street Art, selected to serve as a screaming sentiment to “the square peg in the art hole of acceptance.” The exhibition — all 40,000 sq ft of the immersive industrial space — is everything Roger aimed to capture, “appetite, vandalism, ambition, rebellion. All reaching multiple generations, transcending any border.”
Navigate through living examples of what street art means to our society, and witness what has morphed into starting with a tribute to SANESMITH’s mark on the Brooklyn Bridge, spawning Manhattans backlash threat “Spray now, pay later.” Let Estevan Oriol’s “L.A. Fingers” hit close to home, and realize one photo can capture the culture of an entire city. Submerge in the Cosmic Cavern where phosphorescent trash becomes as beautiful as a coral reef. Enter into AIKO’S glorification to the ugly of a city, she learned to speak English through flickering neon street signs. Recognize that the Guerrilla Girls have been fighting sexism and racism with art activism since 1985 — the fight continues. Hypnotize yourself with SHOE’s vortex of visual declaration.
Henry Chalfant’s streetcars screech with a chromatic pop, these are living moving exhibits. Within mass stimulation, Al Diaz and his simple pen work remind us how movements can begin. Wander around a police car cut in half from artist RISK, a statement that hits harder than an early 90’s drum solo from Fugazi. Stare into Mark Mothersbaugh’s eyes to uncover messages deep within. Let time dissolve with Gajin Fujita and his “Critique On Culture.” Center on his gatekeeper and lion, Gajin reflects “it’s my stance on commercialized culture, a critique on stepping back to realize nature is king. It’s time to release the beast.”
Beyond The Streets is a tenacious temple — our proud square peg of artistic freedom. It can easily have anyone delve into the thought of how it took this long to happen, but then appreciate that it had to be done right. The collection is a connection to a generational mindset into culture, love, pain and brilliant rebellion, serving as a link to a past we can still taste, and a path towards the future of street art’s persistent evolution. And though this domain of courage, blood, sweat and prevailing expression is cleverly named Beyond The Streets, inside, you’ve never felt closer to them.
Beyond The Streets is here until July 6th — don’t even think about missing it.
Written by Travis Platt | Photography by GL Askew II