A group of well-known street artists, representing four different countries, gathered in secret Monday and Tuesday to paint a mural on the side of the relatively new Gabba Gallery in L.A.'s Filipinotown. Culture Monster found itself at the scene, both as the first brush stroke went up and when the mural was finally unveiled Wednesday morning.
The mural -- a colorful, cartoony mash-up of styles -- is a collaboration between Brooklyn-based Rime, L.A.’s Australian husband-wife team Dabs and Myla, Austria’s Nychos, New Zealand’s Askew and L.A. artist Persue.
“It’s about dance and street art shaking hands,” Rime said. “Some of us do break dancing as a hobby, and sometimes we [paint] themes inspired by that. This has raw elements of hip-hop and crumping, like clown dancing.”
The artists, several interns and others associated with the project met in a parking lot on Beverly Boulevard near Occidental Blvd. on Monday under the blazing noon sun. The mood was lively, as friends and fellow artists streamed over to watch the action.
Interns on an orange forklift prepped the wall, coating it with swaths of blue paint. Pizza and copious amounts of sunscreen were passed around. A gritty urban soundtrack prattled in the background: a piercing car alarm, a barking dog, police sirens rounding a corner.
Warren Brand, of Culver City’s Branded Arts, organized the project, which he describes as “a parade of cartoon characters on a conveyor belt.”
“I really felt [these artists] fit this gallery and neighborhood,” Brand said. “Especially Dabs and Myla. Their style is Disney meets graffiti.”
Though Brand had permission from gallery owner Jason Ostro to create the mural, he felt it was still important to keep the project under wraps until its completion so that the artists -- many of whom have international profiles -- could fly under the radar of fans.
Despite the secrecy, there was a definite sense of out-in-the-open joy Monday morning as painting got underway. Gabba Gallery’s upcoming mixed-media group show, “Wood Metal Screw,” opens Aug. 24 featuring muralist cantstopgoodboy, street artist Random Act and legendary skateboarder Steve Olson, among others. And that, too, added to the mounting excitement.
“It feels like there’s an art renaissance that Los Angeles hasn’t seen for many years,” Gabba’s Ostro said, referring to the city’s in-discussion mural ordinance that would lift a ban on private-property murals.
“The city is loosening up. This project is about happiness. It’s a love project. The mural is solidifying a friendship with the neighborhood.”