A street lens on ‘Sesame Street’

At first glance, street art collective the Seventh Letter seems an unlikely partner for a show about “Sesame Street.” Known for its graffiti murals and irreverent take on urban living, the artists in the Seventh Letter crew would be more likely to get in trouble for tagging the show’s famous urban set.

But this weekend, the collective partners with action sports head wear company Neff and the street-art-centric Known Gallery in the Fairfax neighborhood to present a new exhibition dedicated to the much-beloved children’s TV show, and it proves to be a labor of love. Famous (or notorious) artists such as Madsteez and Mr. Cartoon -- the show includes more than 100 works by 40 artists -- present their mostly warm-and-fuzzy depictions of such characters as Oscar, Elmo and the Count in unique pieces that could have been peeled right off the side of a building.

With the high wattage of talent contributing, and the gallery’s reputation, the opening promises to be an event. Expect crowds gathered on Fairfax Avenue for the invitation-only Friday night opening. The show is open to the public Saturday and Sunday.

And it’s for a good cause: to raise money for the pediatric department at cancer hospital City of Hope. The art on display includes street art, tattoo art, stencils, sculptures and illustrations, and is priced from $200 to $8,000.


“I grew up in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s -- ‘Sesame Street’ was a huge part of my childhood,” said Revok, a Seventh Letter artist who will be displaying two works in the show. “The Count taught me how to count! And even today, ‘Sesame Street’ is still so embedded in our culture and is such a great educational tool for young kids. More importantly, the ‘Sesame Street’ theme ties into the show’s whole cause in raising money for the pediatric community.”

A year ago, Neff Headwear reached a licensing agreement with “Sesame Street” to include the show’s classic characters in its products.

It was this agreement, in addition to founder and Chief Executive Shaun Neff’s passion for art, that led to this weekend’s exhibit.

“I’m a huge fan of art and our brand -- in essence, all we do is create art every day and put them on different mediums,” says Neff. “We’ve always had aspirations and desires to do something with such an amazing group like the Seventh Letter. We thought it would be an amazing opportunity for these big artists to do their rendition of ‘Sesame Street.’ ”

“We’re incredibly excited to see how ‘Sesame Street’ characters are interpreted through all art forms. Neff, a true innovator in this industry, is leading the ‘Sesame’ brand in a fun new direction. We can’t wait to see the results,” said Margaret Pepe, assistant vice president of global licensing at the show, in an email to The Times.

The two-day event will also provide food, drinks and music, as well as workshops for children from the City of Hope. Kids will work with the show’s featured artists in creating paintings that will later be on display. Plus, several “Sesame Street” characters are expected to make an appearance, and the show sent gift bags filled with “Sesame Street” dolls.

“ ‘Sesame Street’ is fully part of the art show,” says Neff. “When we presented the idea for the show to ‘Sesame Street,’ it was really cool that they had people internally who genuinely respected the Seventh Letter.”

Casey Zoltan, owner and founder of the Seventh Letter, said, “Several of our featured artists have also decided to donate their profits to the cause as well. The way the artists incorporated the theme into their art has blown me away. It’s been an incredibly positive experience.”




‘Sesame Street’ exhibit


What: Sesame Street presented by the Seventh Letter and Neff Headwear

Where: Known Gallery, 441 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.

When: Sat. 6-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Price: Free entry