Thursday, August 11, 2011
Has Street Art Peaked?
In a word, yes.
Has Street Art Peaked?
This week was a big week for MELROSEandFAIRFAX. Based on web rankings, M&F achieved a major accomplishment in becoming the top street art blog in the USA. That is a very cool thing, but even as the blog's stock share is rising, what is the state of street art in general? Has it peaked? Or will street art continue to grow?
Simply put, yes, street art has peaked.
We believe that some big factors last spring served as a catalyst to thrust street art into the forefront of mainstream culture, and then it climaxed, and now is the fall from the peak.
Things like Banksy's coming to Los Angeles and putting up multiple pieces, along with 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' being nominated for an Oscar really got people amped up. More and more people were finding out about street art, and many were becoming obsessed with it. At this time, literally thousands of people were driving all over the city trying to chase down Banksy's pieces of art--and they had to hurry, because you'd never know when they'd disappear! All of a sudden major newspapers were asking if it is vandalism or art, and whether or not unsanctioned pieces should be protected. It was a really exciting time, and we believe these events thrust street art into the mainstream limelight, where it stayed for the remainder of the spring and into the summer.
It was a little anti-climactic when 'Exit' didn't win an Oscar. But that was not the peak. Even after Banksy left town, the streets of Los Angeles remained lit up with street art. It seemed like a new street artist was popping up every day, and from the electrical boxes all the way up to rooftops, the art was so thick that piece upon piece got stacked together. The city was a big canvas. On another level, the 'art world' was really beginning to take a renewed interest in street art. There were multiple street art shows at numerous galleries every night of every weekend. Even new artists who had literally been on the streets for a couple of months were getting art shows--and sometimes even selling. LA became home to the biggest street art gallery in the world, and even MELROSEandFAIRFAX was approached to curate its first art show. You could say that the city had caught 'street art fever'.
It was a wild time in the city of Los Angeles, but, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Soon after this street art 'peak', the street art world came crashing down. It was hard to notice, but the fall was swift and immediate. The cause can't be attributed to one thing, it was a combination of factors. It all started with the streets becoming more and more empty. Less and less new art was going up, and it even got to the point that at one time, for the first time ever, this blog ran out of pictures to post. And as for the galleries, there were still a lot of shows, but they were half as empty as they were a few short months before, and the art quit selling. Many shows would end with only a couple of pieces with red dots next to them. And a lot of street artists experienced difficulty with the gallery world, including ourselves, who have never been paid for the work we put on curating an amazing art show that was featured next to MOCA in the NY Times. Experiences like these left a bitter taste in the street art community's mouth. And then, to cap it all off the city heightened its buffing efforts of street art, and the prosecution of artists.
Right now, we believe the current climate is something like the hair of the dog on the morning after. This is the hangover.
But, to say that street art has peaked is not to say that the bottom has fallen out. Street art is still a good investment, and we believe its trajectory will be similar to that of skateboarding. Skateboarding, at one point, was mainstream. Everyone had a skateboard and everyone skated. This was its peak, and as it fell, it became less popular. A decade after the peak, skateboarding was an outcast sport. Still, it had a strong underground culture supporting it, and it has repositioned itself, and now, the sport is growing more and more popular than ever. It is our prediction that within 20 years, the X Games will be bigger than the Super Bowl.
Street art is much the same in that it started out last winter at a level 2. Then, when it got more and more popular during the spring, it shot up to an 8. At its most feverish point, it made it to its peak at a 9. But then the fall came, and it fell all the way back down to a 5. This is where we believe the scene is at now. We anticipate that it might even fall a bit more, maybe down to a 4. But it is still higher than where it started at a 2.
With a similar underground framework supporting the scene, no matter what the tides might bring with subtle ups and downs, this is the major art movement of the future. And, in a short period of time, we believe that street art will become generally accepted as being the primary art movement of this generation, and the biggest art movement the modern world has ever known. Street art might have peaked, but if it were a stock, it would be a wise idea to be buying. It might have peaked, but street art is going to keep growing~