Curator Shirlae Cheng-Lifshin and graffiti historian Steven Grody spent three years nurturing a street art show for the Pasadena Museum of California Art—only to have Jeffrey Deitch swoop in from New York and conjure up a bigger show in about fifteen seconds. Pasadena’s “Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas” is barely the size of some of the installations in MOCA’s “Art in the Streets,” and it had the further misfortune of opening a month later. But that doesn’t make “Street Cred” redundant by any means.
At the risk of stating the obvious: If you can see only one street art show, or aren’t sure whether you want to look at a lot of graffiti, the MOCA show is the one to see. If you saw “Art in the Streets” and want more, you should check out “Street Cred.”
• “Street Cred” is strictly L.A. artists; “Art in the Streets” is worldwide. The main Pasadena talking point is that placa predated wild style, bitch.
• “Street Cred” focuses on street kids and former kids who paint(ed) urban walls; “Art in the Street” includes MFAs, pranksters, and poster-posters.
• The key difference between the shows is that “Street Cred” displays gallery art made by street artists. Unfortunately, L.A. street artists today are about where any kind of L.A. artists were, commercially, about fifty years ago. The works are smallish and sometimes seem to have been dashed off as marketable souvenirs. “Street Cred” has small reproductions of its artists’ street paintings (the photos by Steve Grody). The tiny reproductions are often more engaging than the originals in the show. MOCA uses the Geffen acreage to present large-scale pieces, some commissioned for the show.
• While both shows have tons of “educational” material, “Street Cred” more often addresses the questions people are likely to wonder about. “Some Basics: There main forms of graffiti: tags, throw-ups, pieces and productions…” That’s a good way to start. It’s in the “Street Cred” brochure, which you can download and might want to take a look at before going to the MOCA show, even.
• In the Pasadena and Little Tokyo shows: Chaz Bojórquez, Retna (left), TEMPT, SABER, REVOK. Steve Grody, co-curator of the Pasadena show, is in the MOCA show.
• Hey Brooklyn and Queens: “Street Cred” is “made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.”