L.A. Graff Artists Share Styles with Southwest

Photo essay by Ed Fuentes. Los Angeles artists at 2012 West Coast Meeting of Styles, Las Vegas, Nevada. September 21 to 23. Hosted by Pop2 Cultural Arts Center and Arskapa.com. "Desert City" by Pablo Ribot licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) License.

In 2007, International Meeting Of Styles Organization (MoS) joined with Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and Crewest gallery owner ManOne to find a site where graffiti artists from around the west could paint away the weekend. After a rain delay, organizers looked for a way to accommodate a flood of artists and crews. Scrambling for new permits, MoS, FoLAR and ManOne were able to secure the channel where the Arroyo Seco meets the Los Angeles River, and up to 100 artists from the combined crews joined in.

Meeting of Styles at the L.A. River, 2007 | Courtesy of Meeting of Styles
Meeting of Styles at the L.A. River, 2007 | Courtesy of Meeting of Styles

It was considered one of the more successful gatherings of its kind. That is, until the County scolded the Los Angeles team of organizers, then sent their crews to paint over the work, and later attempted to recoup costs for the buffing-out.

It was supposed to be a chance to show artist able to work together, and show an alternative use for the Los Angeles River. Yet the flood of criticism from county officials revealed how graffiti would have a long way to go before being seen as art.

With recent L.A. River projects providing canvases for artists, such as the sculptures along Radford Art Walk in Studio City, and the "stop motion" art along Glendale Narrows, it remains to be seen whether graffiti artists will have a place in the revitalization efforts.

Meanwhile, it will be a long time before Meeting of Styles will visit Los Angeles again, and they have happily been going on with their globetrotting.

When MoS announced that this year they would be in the Arts District of Las Vegas -- the closest they have been to Los Angeles since 2007, artists made plans to attend. (Events have been held in San Francisco and Oakland since then). This past weekend, L.A. artists like Cale, Cre8, Else, Kools, Sand, Vyal, and others met up with artists from the region and around the Southwest.

"Meeting of Styles is so important because it joins together graffiti artists from all over the world and gives them a platform where they are allowed to showcase their talent live and in front of visitors," said Luna George of Crewest. "This event, or showcase of talent by graffiti artists, is a way for the artist and the community to engage. It's a warm gathering between artists and the community."

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The walls were painted over a two-day paint spree, with some artists starting a day early. "It's cool to see these people make the trip out to paint," said one undisclosed Las Vegas artist. "We know their styles, and now we feel like we are part of a bigger art scene."

Since beginning in Germany in 2002, MoS has given graffiti artists a chance to share walls and ideas, and be a "focal point for urban street culture and graffiti art to reach the larger community," according to Meeting of Styles website.

Just this year, MoS has given artists the chance to swarm into global platforms, including Switzerland, Germany, France, Poland, as well as Chicago. The next gathering is in Mexico City September 29 to 30, then on to Italy, China and several stops in South America.

MoS has no plans to return to Los Angeles.

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