Hey John Waters, Art IS for the Masses

Guest blog today from my good friend Erin Mitchell! Erin is obsessed with street art. She shares her amazing photos on Instagram (@locoliinda) and on her own blog Lost Angeles Street Art. She loves new followers, so you should follow her.

I just watched a documentary, “Guest of Cindy Sherman,” about recluse photographer/artist Cindy Sherman that was rather fascinating. Famed sleaze director John Waters was interviewed in it and said something like, “I don’t believe art is for the masses.”

Well, I couldn’t disagree more about this. Art IS for the masses. And this has never been more apparent than right now with a huge movement in art taking over the streets. What is street art you may ask? Street art can be defined as anything pertaining to, but not limited to, graffiti, stickers, wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures and installations.

About 12 years ago I was visiting Los Angeles and spotted a small, mosaic tile “Space Invader” up on a building. I was perplexed by this mysterious tile art and went on to discover that these little guys were placed all around the city (and many other cities all around the world) by French artist Space Invader. I was obsessed with finding these and began photographing my finds. In doing so, I was exposed to all other kinds of street art along the way and began photographing it.

Space Invader

I never did anything with the photos until recently when my young, tech-savvy cousin showed me the world of Instagram. It was then that I learned other people were just as interested in street art as myself. I’ll admit it, I’ve gotten completely obsessed with finding art and posting it before anyone else. I can’t go a day without posting my finds and I’m addicted to getting followers.

Lionel Richie

At one time street art and graffiti were thought to be a seedy, criminal activity. Yes, it’s still illegal (unless sanctioned) but it’s becoming more accepted in the art world. In recent years, street art has started to make its way into the mainstream. There was a wonderful exhibit at MOCA a couple of years back, and a fantastic documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, about Banksy. Believe it or not, Banksy pieces are so valuable {I’m talking thousands and thousands of dollars} that people have been known to cut out ENTIRE walls just to obtain a piece. Crazy, right?

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve become friends with many of the artists and I even have their pieces hanging up in my house. Clearly, I’m obsessed. And if you’re ever out with me you know I can’t walk two feet without taking pictures of posters, stickers, graffiti and other street oddities. I’ll even wander down most alleys just for a good photo (in the day time of course!) I have a hard time avoiding it. Every day I drive to work is like driving through an art gallery. I live near Melrose – the mecca of street art.

In turn, my parents have also become quite obsessed. My dad will go on bike rides and e-mail me his latest street art finds. He’s found some really good pieces too! Last time I visited Denver, my mom and I went to check out some new Shepard Fairey work. I think it’s really cool that my parents share this interest with me. Even some of my skeptical friends have started sending me their finds. See? Young, old, rich, poor – Art is for the masses! And even better it’s free to look at!

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