Bob Dylan dreamed he saw St. Augustine alive as you or me, and got a song out of it.
Graffiti artist Andre Saraiva dreamed of seeing Dylan live in concert in New York’s Central Park with Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez and Rodriguez, and got an art project out of it.
He has turned that musical dream and many others into posters for imaginary concerts, pasting them illicitly on walls and street poles in cities around the world, including Los Angeles, London, New York and Paris.
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Now some of his fantasy lineups are on display at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art in a modest exhibition, "Andre Saraiva: Dream Concerts.” He’s redone six of his street-art concert posters as paintings on canvas, and they're hanging behind the reception desk in the lobby of MOCA's Grand Avenue building through Oct. 7.
Under the name Mr. A, Saraiva created two works for MOCA’s 2011 “Art in the Streets” survey, one of them a top-hatted stick figure cartoon character that has been his signature since he began spraying it on the walls of Paris in the 1990s.
Last year the French artist had a sculpture show in which he built an imaginary city, Andrepolis, at the Hole Gallery in New York. That gallery is run by a protege of MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, who launched her own place to fill the hole left when he closed his Deitch Projects galleries to take the helm at MOCA for what proved to be a rocky and prematurely ending run.
The “Dream Concerts” posters, done in acrylic and spray paint and measuring about 4 feet by 3 feet, advertise multiple-act musical bills that never were (and in certain cases never could have been), but in venues that actually exist.
The aim of Saraiva's original street-art poster campaign, according to MOCA’s announcement of the show, was to tempt the public so that “the anticipation [was] real,” then let doubts set in as the beholder wondered whether the advertised concert lineup was simply too good to be true.
The artist, the announcement says, is “projecting [his] aspirations into the landscape…into the space between graffiti and commercial speech, hope and doubt, to encourage the possibility of legend.”
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Which sounds like another way of saying that Saraiva, also well-known as the impresario of Le Baron, a Manhattan nightclub, has been trying to mess with music fans' heads -- whether irksomely or pleasantly being up to the beholder.
It’s within the realm of possibility -- although exceedingly unlikely -- that the estranged members of Talking Heads might one day bury the hatchet to reunite and play L.A.’s Troubadour club with the also-defunct LCD Soundsystem and other dance-oriented acts, as in the pictured poster that’s part of MOCA's array.
Some of Saraiva’s other imaginings never could have occurred. In one of the posters -- not on display at MOCA -- Joy Division, the British band that signed off forever after singer Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980, shares a London bill with the Smiths, a group that didn’t exist until 1982. But a fan can dream.
The legit, indoor phase of Saraiva’s “Dream Concerts” project that has begun at MOCA soon will proliferate to two more continents. In Tokyo, the Maison Kitsune boutique, whose clothing line includes garments with imagery by Saraiva, has announced a “Dream Concerts Art Show” of 10 of his poster paintings opening Sept. 4. The concert poster series also will be part of a Saraiva gallery show in Stockholm opening Aug. 24 and titled “Back to Sweden,” in honor of his having spent his early years there before moving to France.