Street Art Fair @ Jeff Hamilton Studios
The Ethos of the Street
If MOCA’s “Art in the Streets” (2011) exhibition was Disneyland, Jeff Hamilton Studios’ “Street Art Fair” was… not the Vegas Strip… Downtown Vegas? Fremont Street? Whereas the Museum of Contemporary Art’s graffiti and urban art extravaganza felt controlled and safe (and expensive), Hamilton’s showcase, though barely a mile from MOCA, felt street. Stopping to take a photo of the entrance—a block or two from Skid Row, between two closed-steel-grate bodegas—a homeless man suddenly emerged from what I’d assumed was a discarded box and shouted at me to let him sleep.
There was a rawness to the Street Art Fair, the neon energy that can only come from a show as ephemeral as the street art it exhibited. Popping up for only three days in an exposed-brick-and-ventilation-system loft, the Fair managed to capture what’s missing in most street art gallery shows: the ethos of the street. And, in this case, block party on it: hundreds of sweaty people moving—or trying to move—past alcoves of artists while raucous bass rattled the bricks. Even the sponsor, Stillhouse, harmonized on the theme: as a woman got painted, she gulped moonshine out of Stillhouse’s stainless steel canisters.
The pleasure of street art is that you can turn a city corner and have a discovery. Turning into one of the Fair’s four spaces, and bumping into a woman wearing ropes, a spray-painted hand vaping, and a police-taped installation for Black Lives Matter, you felt the same.
Street Art Fair ran from Sept 29-Oct 1, 2016; Photos by Josh Herman