True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you think of street art, you probably think of large scale murals and graffiti. But, there’s more to street art, like wheatpastes (poster-like work pasted onto surfaces) and stencils.
And then there is To Be Determined. TBD combines photography and wheatpaste for wholly unique art that brings photography to the streets.
TBD is a Los Angeles based artist with work spanning from Downtown to the East Side all the way to Santa Monica. Most of the photographs are taken in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, but I’ve spotted one from Nevada and another from New York. The power of these installations is palpable, they momentarily transport you somewhere else as you are walking down the street and allow you to experience that specific moment in time, even if you’ve never been to that place.
One of TBD’s oft used images is an American flag hanging limply in front of the Golden Arches of McDonald’s. Modern Americana. I’ve seen that photo in color, black and white and negative color. One day, I was taking a walk, a walk that I had done hundreds of times, stopped at the right place to cross the street, looked up and saw the flag against the arches and knew that is where TBD took the original photo. It was a little magical American moment.
TBD has also partnered with Beautify Earth, an organization that works with artists and businesses in neglected or depressed areas to beautify their community with public art to uplift the neighborhood and bring back a sense of pride. TBD’s task was to create a mural for Wallpaper City and Flooring for Beautify Lincoln in Santa Monica. Photographs of Santa Monica were pasted onto the exterior of the building to create a mural that captured the energy and essence of the city.
But after unusually heavy rains, the mural was in need of significant repair. I volunteered to help TBD restore the mural. We took down the peeling photos, which were printed on thick paper using a large format printer, and replaced them with fresh prints. TBD added some spray paint accents and I tried to paint some lines. People in cars and pedestrians voiced their support and appreciation of the effort to make their city more interesting and beautiful.
There is art all around us. TBD captures a fleeting moment, whether it is a homeless person on Skid Row, a dog out for a walk, or palm trees against a clear sky, and preserves it for everyone.
Look for TBD on walls, electrical boxes and even dumpsters around Los Angeles. Follow TBD on Instagram for more photographic street art.
This post also appears on the Art Cricket LA Blog. Art Cricket LA connects collectors to local artists. Discover a new artist!
Risk, Downtown Los Angeles Arts District
CBS Crew, Silver Lake
West Coast Artists x CBS Crew, Sunset Junction
Dame x Retna, Downtown Los Angeles
Blenz, Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Dame, Downtown Los Angeles
Myla (of Dabs Myla), Hollywood
Risk x Bio of Tats Cru, Sunset Junction
Duce One, Silver Lake
When I first started noticing street art, it was paste ups and stencils. Graffiti was sort of lost on me since most of the time I couldn’t read it, and growing up in the suburbs, graffiti was associated with gangs…scary! bad! But, that’s not always the case. Writers are artists too.
There is so much style, diversity and imagination that goes into writing. I have to admit, I still can’t read all the graffiti I come across, but that doesn’t take away from appreciating the art form. How can you not admire Risk, Bio, Dame and CBS and Tats Cru as a whole? And this is just in my neighborhood- there is so much more out there!
My new favorite, whom I’ve never actually seen a piece in person, is Gary MSK. And you can imagine my disappoint to learn the legendary Nekst is a Houston native and I never saw any of his work as I grew up there.
Don’t buff, admire.
Banksy, 9th and Broadway, taken October 23, 2013
Los Angeles’s own Banksy, downtown. When “Exit Through the Gift Shop” premiered in LA in 2010, Banksy left this behind. Knowing how quickly pieces were defaced (or even buffed by the city) in New York for his “Better Out Than In” residency in October 2013, it is nice to see “Girl on Swing” still as is. It is perfect for the car obsessed, urban sprawl of LA.
As I walk around the city each day, seeing new pieces of art materialize overnight, spotting new artists and enjoying ones I know, there is something about finally seeing a Banksy in person.
Update: On April 2, 2014 David William Noll was arrested for vandalizing the work after the building’s owner filed a complaint (and after he posted a video of himself on YouTube defacing the work). He has been ordered to stay away from all of Banksy’s work, received community service and three years probation after pleading no contest to the felony.
JR, Echo Park, taken September 1, 2013
JR, Echo Park, taken September 25, 2013
JR, Downtown Los Angeles Arts District, taken August 24, 2013
The scale and detail of these make them quite impressive. It is amazing to have this art on the street, so anyone can see and enjoy it. Thanks, JR.
JR is a French artist and these are from his “Wrinkles of the City” series, which is not only in Los Angeles, but Shanghai and Havana as well, and inspired by Cartagena, Spain- the city, the people and their relationship.
The American Apartments, Hewitt Street, Leba, Wheatpaste, taken August 24, 2013
After seeing so many great pictures of work in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, I finally went to see for myself. I thought I’d walk a few blocks and take pictures for about an hour…closer to three hours. There was so much interesting work to see: graffiti, murals, wheatpastes and small treasures on every street, alley and parking lot.
This building has so much going on, I was taking my time photographing each dinosaur, Cheshire cat and Kashink when I look up and see a dog just hanging out on the window ledge.
Aside from the dog, which was just delightful, I really like Leba, his work and message. Wake up. It is a call to action. Wake up and do something. It is time.
Downtown Los Angeles Arts District, taken August 24, 2013
Even in death Marilyn cannot resit in peace. There is still fascination and speculation about her life and death. All the scrutiny she felt in life is still present, even though she ended it all to make it stop. This also makes me think about the way we treat current celebrities- little to no privacy. Everyone deserves peace.