Beyond The Streets: Vandalism As Contemporary Art

Lil Crazy Legs from Wild Style, Riverside Park, NY, 1983. (Photo by Martha Cooper)

A massive display of graffiti street art and skate culture will be opening its DTLA doors this weekend to the public. The art gallery is offering a showcase of diverse paintings, sculptures, photography, performances, lectures, films, and custom installations in one area.

Housed in a 40,000+ square foot industrial indoor/outdoor space, Beyond The Streets (BTS) is curated by author and historian Roger Gastman. A media preview allowed us to visit the space and check out the unique craziness of street life.

“The hope of this show was to explore the culture and evolution of the art form. Being a part of the streets made me realize how much of an appetite there was for this culture, but also how little was understood of the art,” said Gastman during his opening remarks.

Original works from Shepard Fairey, Jason Revok, Retna, Lady Pink, Dash Snow, Guerrilla Girls, Barry McGee, Chaz, Lee Quinones, Faile, Swoon, Taki 183, Dennis Hopper, Takashi Murakami, and some guy named BANKSY were found while roaming the gallery.

“I set out to create this show and it took us years to do it ourselves. We wanted to be true to the spirit of the art form; vandalism, ambition, rebellion, being out in the streets. Every artist in the show embodies this notion in their own way, graffiti and street art operating at the highest levels with dynamic studio practices,” Gastman continued.

Some of the artwork on display that caught our attention were the OBEY collage prints, featuring an ‘Andre The Giant Has A Posse’ slogan, along with life sized Mickey Mouse hand sculptures dawning the trademark LA sign.

Each room had different themes, colors and vibes. Ranging from sex, violence, politics, video games, pop culture, and sports, it offers something for everyone regardless of age or race.

A major partnership in the BTS exhibit comes from adidas Skateboarding. Both are celebrating Los Angeles as a major global epicenter of skateboarding, art and culture, from past and present.

Venice Beach Pavilion aka The Pit. Photo courtesy of adidas Skateboarding.

“On the eve of this show, graffiti and street art are bigger and more global then ever, Gastman explained. They reach multiple generations and transcend every boarder and barrier imaginable. There’s never been a better time then the present for this work and the authenticity it deserves.”

Working closely alongside Gastman, adidas Skateboarding collaborated with BTS on the historical re-creation of Venice Beach’s legendary graffiti and skate destination, the Venice Pavilion. A site of deep cultural significance for the brand and city, the fully skateable outdoor installation features graffiti by iconic writers from the Venice Beach community.

“Skateboarding and graffiti share a parallel history of creative rebellion and defiance, and both continue to have a profound influence on the look and feel of popular culture on a global scale,” says adidas Senior Communications Manager Cullen Poythress.

BTS plan to deliver an exciting program of activities comprised of events, workshops, and more throughout its two month-long LA residency.

“There’s arguably no better city to showcase the intersection of these two worlds than Los Angeles and together, with Beyond The Streets, we hope to tell a more complete story of how these two incredible art forms continue to inspire each other and the global conversation at large,” Poythress said.

A gift shop concludes the exhibit with a plethora of coffee table books, tote bags, bottle openers and custom T-shirts available to purchase.

Dubbed as the Mark Maker/Rule Breaker collection, all proceeds from the capsule will benefit STOKED Mentoring, the non-profit group empowering and supporting youth through mentorship and action sports.

This one-of-a-kind, touring Beyond The Streets exhibition debuts this weekend on May 6th and will run through July 6th. BTS will then head to New York City with more global locations to be announced. Gallery information including tickets, days and times of operation and more can be found at

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