L.A. has been a street-art hub for decades—and now a group of the old-school graffiti artists, many of whom were tagging walls together 30 years ago, are getting back together to see their work recognized in a new gallery show.
In Los Angeles during the 1980s and ‘90s, a walk through East L.A., Pico-Union or Downtown would have been an outdoor showcase for the work of young graffiti artists like Gajin Fujita of Boyle Heights and his crew. Fujita followed his love of painting to art school and became a well-known artist, featured his own shows at LACMA and other museums. This time, he’s taking on the role of curator to bring 11 L.A. graffiti writers from his past together for Roll Call at L.A. Louver gallery.
Among the artists with work in the show are some of Fujita’s earliest friends and Kidz Gone Bad crew-mates, including Alex Kizu (aka Defer) and Jesse Simon, who now specializes in abstract sculptures made primarily from recycled surfboards. As the years went on and graffiti culture got even hotter in L.A., the crew expanded and evolved, picking up the attention of artists from '60s street-art progenitor Chaz Bojorquez and, more recently, RETNA, the much-commissioned muralist behind the colorfully-pattered walls you’ve definitely seen all over Instagram. Both artists contributed to the exhibition, showing how styles have evolved over the generations.
“Graffti gave us a voice and a sense of identity. It was our entry into another world beyond our neighborhoods, and we never thought what we were doing then would have such an impact not just on the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, but on the generations to come,” Fujita said in a press release from the gallery.
Roll Call opens at L.A. Louver in Venice on Nov 16 with a public opening reception from 6 to 9pm. The show will be on display until Jan 14, 2017. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
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