The West Hollywood Library Murals
Arising from MOCA’s landmark exhibit, Art in the Streets, the three murals are the fruits of an innovative collaboration between MOCA and the City of West Hollywood with principal funding from Cadillac and Vanity Fair. MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch was intrigued by the three large blank white walls on the exterior of the new 5-story parking structure that would serve the new West Hollywood Library scheduled to open October 1, 2011. With a satellite gallery space at the Pacific Design Center and a desire to better connect MOCA’s gallery with the City of West Hollywood, Deitch felt the large blank walls would be an ideal canvas for three of the street artists featured prominently in the “Art in the Streets” exhibit – Shepard Fairey, Marquis Lewis (RETNA) and Kenny Scharf.
The three artists were equally intrigued and challenged with the opportunity to create works on such a large scale, representing one of the largest, if no the largest canvas each artist had been able to paint. Interestingly, while the original design of the building called for blank white walls and some members of the community were concerned about “graffiti” artists painting on the beautiful new library, no one now can imagine these walls any other way. The City has gone a bit “mural” crazy, with many businesses now pursuing permits to place murals on blank walls of their businesses and the City of West Hollywood looking to incorporate more murals into other public spaces.
The works are a testimony to the artists tuning into the opportunity and the community. Each artist considered his wall and from where it would be seen. Shepard provides an entryway into the public garage for autos and pedestrians and has found a way with his “Peace Elephant” to celebrate the City, which was one of the first in the nation to officially protest the war in Iraq. Scharf’s playful figures face the park directly and overlook a children’s playground area. RETNA’s work faces the Business Improvement District known as the Avenues of Art, Fashion and Design and in his signature graphic style portrays a quote from Salman Rushdie about the power of literature – an apt quote as a reminder of the important role libraries and access to ideas plays in a democratic society.
City of West Hollywood