Can it be possible? Did Clear Channel, the advertising corporate giant and media homogenizer, really contact the LA Freewalls Project and offer up several of its billboards to artists? It must be a tax write-off or something. Or a publicity stunt to improve their despicable image. Regardless, Clear Channel isn’t going anywhere without a swift kick from the public and the war on advertising space continues.
CRP has long pointed out how hypocritical the gluttony of advertisement in comparison to public art is. As people pointed out during the latest IPhone hype, the government will ignore its draconian “sit – lie” laws if its a group of people camping out to consume the latest craze. The same can be said for advertising. Private property is sacrosanct but the public visual space is not.
There’s an unexpected new exhibition space on Hillhurst Avenue. Look up over the Alcove to see a 14 feet by 48 feet canvas by Zes, a well-known graffiti writer. The billboard is one of 28 murals in the LA Freewalls Project—a citywide exhibition of artworks on 70 billboards organized by Daniel Lahoda, owner of downtown’s LALA Gallery.
According to Lahoda, the vibrantly colored vinyl canvas is “an abstract representation of his entire crew, a roll call of sorts.” The piece is a visual shout-out to Zes’ frequent collaborators including Retna and Saber. LA Freewalls takes street art—not to be confused with gang-affiliated tagging—from the streets and alleys and elevates it: giving viewers a chance to appreciate the artistry involved.
The Freewalls Project grew out of Lahoda’s work in downtown’s Arts District where, since 2009, he has been commissioning artworks on buildings with building owners’ permission.
In April, Clear Channel advertising contacted him to help fill empty billboards as a public service; six other companies are now involved. A map on LA Freewalls’ website shows where the art can be found. http://www.publicworksart.com/
Materials used to create the art billboards include recycled ads that were flipped to utilize the blank side. Other artists participating include Ron English and Shepard Fairey.
Lahoda also helped produce the 11,000 square foot mural by Cyrcle completed in mid-September on the exterior of Bedrock Studios on Allesandro Street near the intersection of Glendale Boulevard and Alvarado. Titled Magic is Real, the multi-layered piece stands out on the busy boulevard; neighbors were notified in advance, according to Lahoda, and so far the work has received positive reviews.
LA Freewalls has an interactive element. Viewers are encouraged to photograph the works; more than 800 photos have already been posted.
“People are engaging and interacting with these public spaces in a new way. It’s an indication that we’ve come so far in the graffiti world,” said Lahoda adding the project is a collaboration of the city, advertising agencies and artists working towards the same goal of public art.
The Zes piece will hover above Hillhurst Avenue until the end of the year. Visit www.publicworksart.com for more information.