Arts : On the street

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ArtSLAM is heady stuff

Café Revolucion bristled with beats, marker squeaks, and the clack-clacking and hiss of spray paint cans on Saturday, June 17, at the fifth ArtSLAM event. Three poster board easels were attached to the plywood backdrop perched on the stage and artists hit the ground running. As 4 DJs spun hip-hop to So-Cal punk, the evening’s soundtrack aligned with the climate of the crowd. Emcee “Furious” made introductions and facilitated the bidding, since each artist’s improvisational work was for sale. As the evening wore on and the ruby elixir he carried with him made its way from bottle to mouth, Furious surpassed his emcee duties and sometimes competed for the audience’s attention.

Revolucion’s red walls were inviting and easily welcomed you into the comfortably stygian room. A handful of tables, a sufficient number of chairs and a couch were strategically placed, allowing for the evening’s traffic to freely flow. Spectators, bidders, and friends moved about in order to see what they were bidding on and judge an appropriate offer.

Rob Perez, event organizer and local artist was in the first round of creations, spray-painting layered stencils to create his demure, Waking Life inspired girl with chin resting on shoulder and arms entwined behind her.

Another artist, Gerry Garcia diligently focused on his first piece, a contemplative, yellow-and-green gorilla with a plunger attached to his forehead and a barrel of ominous black sludge pouring down around him. Red strokes of fury surrounded the mass to simulate velocity and urgency.

A clean, lemony-gold Koi (traditionally known as Nishikigoi) was Gabe Bernal’s project. Using stencils and spray-paint, the goldfish-cousin writhed and overcame cerulean waves. Sharply outlined in black marker, Koi have become part of contemporary tattoo culture, representing good luck to those who believe and care to delve into the possible of meaning of a fish I’ve seen on quite a few bodies.

Joe De La Cruz had a very unique piece Emcee Furious referred to as “Slimer.” Like Garcia, he used only acrylic paint to construct his Kelly green ghoul with drooping eyeballs and wide, smirking gap-toothed mouth.

Despite the miasma of spray-paint fumes, it was refreshing to see a crowd of 20-somethings support freestyle art. The highlight was seeing the eagerness to own something that captured a moment in an artist’s mind, something they’ve released onto a canvass to share that may not return to them, but instead be placed on someone’s wall in some apartment or house somewhere else in this city.

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