On the weekend, I read the following announcement:
Not reading closely enough, we decided to go down to see the show on Saturday. I had checked the museum hours and assumed it was open its normal times, so we were very disappointed when we got to El Segundo and found the Museum locked. Just as we were getting ready to leave, two young German guys with all kinds of camera equipment arrived; they were making a documentary of this project, and said the curator was just coming, too. They also told us that the show’s opening had been the night before, when over 800 people–a mixture of street artists, dudes, museum folk, and artists–had crammed into the space for a wild, wild evening, the likes of which El Segundo has rarely seen. What we had failed to notice was that the show wasn’t supposed to open to the public until Sunday. OOOPS!
Just then, David Brafmann, curator of Rare Books at the Getty Research Institute, appeared. All of them were a little worse for wear–it was QUITE a party!–but David kindly allowed us in to examine this incredible production.
And here he is, explaining how he had the idea of combining street art and rare 16th and 17th century books of calligraphy and printmaking:
Initially, he managed to get 150 street artists from all over SoCal to produce one sheet to put into a Liber Amicorum, a friends’ book, as Renaissance artists did–here it is:
He then had a handful of the greatest of these artists–guys whose works we have all seen on LA buildings and walls–and showed them old calligraphy books by Dürer and others, which inspired them to come to the museum building, where they stayed for days, and painted these works together on the panels of the museum’s gallery. The Renaissance books were displayed along with their images:
Some of my favorites are here, including Gaijin Fujita:
He also included a wall of wax, accompanied by a vitrine with cuneiform, and allowed visitors to scratch into the surface:
The words “PIMP COW” in the middle of the wall have something to do with Brafmann’s own story–Google Brafmann and Pimp Cow to see why!
This is one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen in a long time, and we are so grateful to Mr. Brafmann for taking the time to talk to us, when he must have been more than thoroughly hung over!
If you have any interest in grafitti art, or street art, or the sheer buzz of immediate street-generated creativity, go see this show!