My ‘Not the Enemy’ triptych for Thinkspace Gallery’s ‘Vitality & Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape,’ exhibition in association with Pow! Wow! Long Beach and the Long Beach Museum of Art is on display between June 25, 2015 and October 25, 2015. Vitality & Verve is an exhibition which celebrates the work of artists, several of whom have developed a craft and following by painting on the streets without permission, outside of the law and institutions.
When institutions begin to recognize the social and artistic importance of this movement, its also important to recognize and understand the roots of that movement and the broad spectrum of people & practices it involves. Several weeks prior to this monumental show, unarmed 19 year old Hector Morejon was shot & killed by police in Long Beach whilst allegedly painting graffiti in an abandoned building. Hector was one of two teens killed in a few months. As an artist who has explored and painted in abandoned buildings myself, I felt it was important to shed light on this tragic event and how extreme and unnecessary this course of action was, as is much of the negative social stigma and over-inflated harsh legal penalties associated with graffiti art.
This is also part of a larger problem — the treatment and violence towards unarmed citizens in the US. There is no doubt that police and lawmakers have a difficult job, but the reoccurrence and massive amount of ‘unarmed’ shootings is evidence that current practices and policies must be changed to end community tensions and avoid more unnecessary deaths.
It was amazing painting alongside talent such as Aaron Horkey, Alex Yanes, Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawasaki, Brendan Monroe, Cryptik, Esao Andrews, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Hot Tea, James Bullough, Jeff Soto, John S. Culqui, Low Bros, Nosego, Nychos, Saber, and Tristan Eaton.
A special thanks to Thinkspace Gallery’s Andrew Hosner, Pow! Wow!’s Jasper Wong, LBMA’s amazing staff, and my assistant, Miya.
Photos by b4flight.