As LA’s MOCA tries to give graffiti and street art their moment in the Southern California sun, in New York LA II, aka Angel Ortiz, and in Los Angeles, Revok, aka Jason Williams, are in jail for doing the art they love.
While LA II, who is best known as a collaborator of Keith Haring, has quietly languished at Riker’s Island prison, Revok’s arrest and subsequent sentencing has been accompanied by a vocal outcry from his comrades and fans, including Shepard Fairey, who issued a poster last week to raise money for his legal defense fund.
The debate about graffiti and street art and its role in a democratic and free society is sure to rage on as the artists associated with the art form continue to make waves by openly challenging vandalism laws. The whole phenomenon is strangely reminiscent of the emergence of hip hop in the 1980s and 90s, when artists (and their handlers) often parlayed criminal charges into more publicity and fame for the artist.
The largest question is do artists have — or should they have — a right to create art on public property or the property of others.
The Twitterverse has been very vocal about its anger regarding Revok’s arrest.
From a fellow graffiti writer, Saber:
— Mr. Rosstine (@Saber) April 25, 2011
And some other commentary:
Its not a party till someone gets arrested.. #artinthestreets thanks to the curtorial team at the LAPD
— Vicki Raisens (@VickiRaisens) April 26, 2011
— DESTROY (@DESTROY213R) April 25, 2011
Arresting graffiti artists is a great use of our tax dollars, while other real criminals are out selling drugs & murdering people #FreeRevok
— The Seventh Letter (@The7thLetter) April 24, 2011
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