Friday, December 30, 2011

LA RAW 2011

"Mugunica - Documentary on the Street artist Blu"

LA RAW came together almost a year ago because of BLU. You know, artist paints mural, museum censors mural, LA RAW carries out a series of protest art actions against censorship and in support of BLU with the help of dozens of Los Angeles artists and cultural activists.
So, it seems fitting to close out the year with BLU!
This is a full length documentary about BLU and his trip to Latin America.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the artists who created a lot of wonderful art against censorship and all the people who supported us.


Mugunica - Documentary on the Street artist Blu from Julie Navarro on Vimeo.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"America's Next TARP Model"

For those who like to get their news from comedy shows...

"A Bloomberg report reveals that the U.S. government loaned banks $7.7 trillion in secret bailout funds at no interest and then borrowed the money back at interest."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

99% v 1%

the data behind the Occupy movement - animation

"As poverty and inequality reach record levels, how much richer have the rich got? This animation explains what the key data says about the state of America today"

Mariana Santos and Simon Rogers, Wednesday 16 November 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bank of America Walkout

Bank Transfer Day

Today November 5, 2011 is Bank Transfer Day.

"Pasadena Plein Air" by Alex Schaefer

"If the 80,000 signed up for Bank Transfer Day indeed move their money, they stand to save a combined $4.8 million a year as credit union members save on banking fees, states Bill Cheney, CEO of CUNA. If over 400,000 consumers made the switch, they’d stand to save about $29.8 million just by joining a credit union."
-From Justine Rivero piece in

Bank Transfer Day can turn into something even bigger that will bring about real change, if everyone told their friends and family about the benefits of switching to Credit Unions or small local banks. Maybe next time you want to post a funny picture of an animal, or a photo of your lunch, you can also post a link or info about this for your FB friends. It's an easy contribution that we all can make!

Alex Schaefer

To see the rest of Alex Schaefer's burning bank paintings visit his blog:

Bank Transfer Day on Facebook: 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bank Transfer Day (III)

November 5th is Bank Transfer Day. It's meant to make a statement, it's meant to prove that when people come together they can achieve anything. But according to a report that came out yesterday (November 3rd) it seems that there has already been progress.
"The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that a whopping 650,000 Americans have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 — the date that Bank of America announced it would start charging a $5 monthly debit fee, a move it backed down on this week."
- Think Progress

The ironic aspect of moving your money away from big banks is that you will actually save money. Transfer your money, to save money! And if you can't do it by November 5th, it's all right, as long as you make that decision and act on it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bank Transfer Day (II)

72,736 people have signed up to Bank Transfer Day as of November 2nd.

This is one of the actions that has actually had an effect already.


Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November. If we shift our funds from the for-profit banking institutions in favor of not-for-profit credit unions before this date, we will send a clear message that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices. It's time to invest in local community growth!

• Research your local credit union options
• Open an account with the one that best suits your needs
• Cancel all automatic withdrawals & deposits
• Transfer your funds to the new account
• Follow your bank's procedures to close your account before 11/05


While the Bank Transfer Day movement acknowledges the enthusiasm from Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, the Bank Transfer Day movement was neither inspired by, derived from nor organized by Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Bank Transfer Day movement does not endorse any activities conducted by Anonymous or Occupy Wall Street."

If you like to join up here are a couple of links:
Bank Transfer Day Facebook Page, Website.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bank Transfer Day (I)

"Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by 11/05, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices.

While the Bank Transfer Day movement acknowledges the enthusiasm from Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, the Bank Transfer Day movement was neither inspired by, derived from nor organized by Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Bank Transfer Day movement does not endorse any activities conducted by Anonymous or Occupy Wall Street."

- Bank Transfer Day


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Danger, Police in Area!

Mother Jones posted this photo from Occupy Oakland protests on Tuesday night. Apparently as the OPD were going crazy with their tear gas and rubber bullets and sound cannons, someone put up this sticker on the police barricades.

Former Marine’s skull cracked at Occupy Oakland

There is also a report posted on Military Times website worth checking out:
"... former Marine Cpl. Scott Olsen, who deployed twice to Iraq with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy LA October 15th

To see more images of October 15 protests in Los ANgeles please visit out Facebook page:

We have also posted pics of protests from around the world on Facebook.

Friday, October 14, 2011

OCCUPY WALL STREET resist eviction and win

October 14, 2011
5,000 protestors defended their right to OCCUPY WALL STREET!

Occupy Wall Street Anthem | "Finally Here"

Occupy Wall Street Anthem | "Finally Here"
by The Roaring featuring Ari Herstand

Pay-what-you-want download:
*Half the proceeds go to the Fund (, the other half go to the starving artists behind this project.*
Ari Herstand: http://ariherstand.com
Recorded at Be Hear Now Studios in Los Angeles


Dear Washington and Wall Street,
We are the 99% and we're here to stop the machine.

Why is that we only come through in times of crisis
Can't recognize the need while we stare at our devices
See, I got the graph and I got the stats
And I got the need to keep people from the rats
More than simply a game of motivation
The idea that together we're better then evolution
Not me against you
But really an us
See, The world is our oyster
Only we can destruct
Democracy seems really cool
The idea that we give voice, even to the fool
But see that's the problem
With our system of learning
The fantastic drips down
And infects the yearning
Are we meant to play the game on even ground
Or is that the fairytale that makes the merry-go-round
Used to be tribes
Then the nation state drew borders
Every revolution comes from disrespecting orders
But I got hope
And I believe in peace
In Korea, South Asia and the Middle East

Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got a future full of love
Love without fear
Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got stand up, be proud, hold each other near

He said good morning could you raise your right hand
Step into the jurors box and take a stand
On trial are the quiet dreams of our fathers
See those dreams draw lines between us and others

Built our corporate present on them dotted lines
It's those strange shapes that seem to plague the mind
Mine and yours
An equation outdated
The prosecution suggests it be recalibrated

My patriotic dream is recast as struggle
We the people be building out of this rubble

How many more rotations about the sun
Before my brothers in arms will lay down their guns
"We the people" is beyond a battle cry
A Formula for peace and progress in our time

The current manifesto manifests too small
Promise of living is dwarfed by the wall
My aim is not guilt nor material goods
My sights on inspiration cross all latitudes
My declaration declares one thing
Creation exists in each human being

Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got a future full of love
Love without fear
Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got stand up, be proud, hold each other near

Whispers of the revolution are getting louder
on the Wall Streets and Main Streets
from New York
to Los Angeles
and around the world
See, we need the corruption and greed to end
And we need to learns respect for all of our brothers and sisters
See youth, it's a state of mind
and we preach a future full of
and progress

Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got a future full of love
Love without fear
Cause the youth, yeah, we're finally here
Got stand up, be proud, hold each other near

Photos contributed by:
Michael Nagle
Kevork Djansezian
Mario Tama
Josh Reynolds
Paul Stein
David Shankbone
Lucas Jackson

Video footage by:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

11 Facts You Need To Know About The Nation’s Biggest Banks

"11 Facts You Need To Know About The Nation’s Biggest Banks" appears on

To read full article please click here

Occupy armed with knowledge. Think Progress published a very informative piece about U.S. banks that everyone should read. The article includes links and facts that you never see or hear on mainstream media!

Here are some highlights:

"– Bank profits are highest since before the recession…: According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., bank profits in the first quarter of this year were “the best for the industry since the $36.8 billion earned in the second quarter of 2007.” JP Morgan Chase is currently pulling in record profits.

– Banks make nearly one-third of total corporate profits: The financial sector accounts for about 30 percent of total corporate profits, which is actually down from before the financial crisis, when they made closer to 40 percent.

– The six biggest banks hold assets equal to 63 percent of the country’s GDP: In 1995, the six biggest banks in the country held assets equal to about 17 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Now their assets equal 63 percent of GDP."

Occupy LA Poster

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy LA Week II

We are posting a lot of pics & videos, related articles on out Facebook page around the clock.
Please LIKE and follow on

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street & Beyond!

This photo says it all!
This photo was found on on October 4, 2011. We are not sure what the main source is but the important thing is how it captures the essence of what's going on in the US today.

The man in the photo is not a criminal because we know that he is one of the many in Occupy Wall Street protesters. The police officer has him pinned down with his knee, a great symbol of who the law enforcement protects. And in the meantime the mainstream media keeps telling people that nobody knows what the people are protesting! A sad state of affairs for a country that claims to be the liberators of others! How long are people going to stay ignorant is something that only time will tell. But one thing that is clear is that based on the rapid growth of the protests across the US, more of the 99% keep joining in and the government and its legislators who compose 44% of the rich- the 1%- will be forced to deal with this situation sooner rather than later.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Occupy LA

Saturday October 1, 2011
Los Angeles
City Hall

Occupy LA Begins!

Saturday October 1, 2011
11:15 am
Los Angeles City Hall

Protesters gather at the West entrance to the LA City Hall as the LAPD holds an event showing off weapons, equipment, Bomb detection Robots, etc at the South end of the City Hall.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Opening" Protest at MOCA

Culture Wars continue at LA MOCA.
The following video is a short report on the protest that took place during the opening of "Art in the Streets".

Statements from participating artists/performers:

How The West Was Won

MOCA director Deitch couldn't digest the painfully truthful worldwide view of US Imperialism Blu painted. So instead, he whitewashed and replaced it with the US Government/Hollywood sanctioned version we now see. True Blue Amerikan Censorship!

Joe Talkington - Butoh Sculptor

I think it's very dangerous to view MOCA's reaction to BLU's anti-war mural by erasing it as anything less than censorship. I believe not to boycott this show after the mural has been buffed would be to go against the very intention of any street art that isn't about self-aggrandizement. The quickest way to silence dissent is to give the dissenters authority and put them on the payroll.

Khadija Anderson
Poet/Butoh Artist

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Culture Wars: Crowdsourcing VS Curating

The following article was published on
Mob Rule: Curating via Crowdsourcing

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Art in the Streets"

"Art in the Streets" by LA Anonymous

At a time when Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is about to launch "Art in the Streets, the first major U.S. museum survey of the history of graffiti and street art presented in the United States", the city of Los Angeles has launched an all out attack on "street artists".

At a time when a Billionaire backed museum organizes an exhibit of the street art, where people are required to pay an admission fee to see the show, and are provide with a "safe" venue to purchase exhibit related merchandise, "The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has filed a lawsuit against Gheorghiu and nine other graffiti writers... because they’re selling art works on the strength of their outlaw names and reputations"(Washington Post).

At a time when the second largest city in the U.S. is run by big developers and lacks leadership by its elected officials, it's no surprise that same thing would happen to its museums. The natural outcome of this trend is out in the open for all to see (or NOT see); whitewashing of anti war murals, prosecution of non billionaire sanctioned street artist, etc.

Culture Wars are on, and we're just getting warmed up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Desperately Seeking Artist!

The following appeared on craigslist on Friday April 1, 2011

Artist Wanted

Contemporary Art “museum” seeks street artist to do a very large mural on the museum's exterior wall.
Great opportunity to generate international publicity for your work!
Sketches should be submitted in advance. Design may NOT include any reference to social/political/cultural issues, ie. education, labor, war, arts budget cuts, censorship, etc.
All submitted designs must be abstract, void of meaning, and lacking substance of any kind.
All submissions MUST include a contract signed by the artist agreeing to the following:
- To release museum of any responsibility in the event of any city regulation violation leading to the removal of said mural.
- To not communicate with press and the media in any form, written, verbal, visual, cyber, etc.
- To not disclose any information you might acquire in the course of your work in regards to city government, officials running for the office of the mayor and the major contributors to their campaigns, be it venture philanthropist/former or current real estate developers or other interested parties in development negotiations with the city.
- To comply with museum's definitions for various words and phrases such as agreeing that removal of artwork is not censorship but is a curatorial decision. This includes any words that may need future definition alteration as seen fit by museum staff.
Museum reserves the right to determine all issues pertaining to sensitivity especially regarding candidates for future city government offices.
All compensation due to the artist will be paid out of museum executive’s personal funds and is not subject to public scrutiny.

A- Although museum building might be under the ownership of the city, artist is solely responsible for complying with all city regulations concerning the legal issues pertaining to executing public art and museum does not feel the need to function within the boundaries of government regulations even if said museum may be a public entity.
B- Selected artist is solely responsible towards any future loss of reputation or dignity, especially among colleagues and peers.
C- This announcement is published only to further public discussion of various issues concerning the state of the arts and culture and is not a real job offer.

From craigslist

Monday, March 28, 2011

"The Culture Wars Are Back"

"The Culture Wars Are Back": A Summit at the Corcoran Draws Lessons From the Smithsonian's Wojnarowicz Censorship Scandal

By Ben Davis

The National Portrait Gallery's "Hide/Seek" exhibition may have closed, but the controversy around Smithsonian director G. Wayne Clough's decision to remove a work by David Wojnarowicz from that show simmers on. The Smithsonian has said that it will host a forum on lessons learned from the dispute in April — details have not been fleshed out — but this past weekend, the Corcoran Gallery of Art hosted an all-day symposium on the issues raised by the affair, titled "Culture Wars: Then and Now." The location, of course, is highly symbolic, since the Corcoran was ground zero for an earlier era of tussles between the religious right and the avant garde. And Saturday's key-note speaker was Yale art school dean Robert Storr, who declared that "the culture wars are back," according to the Washington Post.

The symposium drew some 100 attendees, and in addition to Storr included such '90s culture-war veterans as Dennis Barrie, the former director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center who was charged with obscenity for showing Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jane Livingston, who quit her position as associate curator at the Corcoran over the Mappelthorpe scandal in 1989. It also brought together a range of figures from the trenches of the recent National Portrait Gallery protests, including Mike Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone, the activists who opened a temporary Museum of Censored Art to show Wojnarowicz's work outside the NPG, and Orameh Bagheri of the anti-censorship group L.A. Raw, which spearheaded some creative demonstrations against Clough when he appeared in L.A.

To read the full article click here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Free Program

Saturday, March 26 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Pre-registration encouraged.
Presented in partnership by Transformer, The National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design.
If you cannot join us in person, check back on Saturday morning for our live stream and discussion on twitter (#culturewars).

In light of recent censorship by the Smithsonian Institution and threats from some congressional leaders to pull arts funding from national arts institutions (including the National Endowment for the Arts), this day of panels and presentations examines the Culture Wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and how freedom of expression and public support for the arts are currently being debated. Panel discussions include: Censorship Examined; Culture Wars Redux; Give Me a Revolution: Artist Responses to Censorship; Free Speech and Arts Funding.

Censorship Examined
10–11 a.m.
In this presentation, Culture Wars: Then and Now keynote speaker, Robert Storr, Dean, Yale School of Art, will examine visual arts censorship within the context of American culture and history. (Screening of Linda Lewett’s video Perfect Moment at WPA prior to panel)
Culture Wars Redux – What did we (what do we) consider offensive?
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Panelists include Philip Brookman, chief curator and head of research, Corcoran Gallery of Art and former curator of Washington Project for the Arts; Dennis Barrie, director of cultural and interpretive planning, Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement and former director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center; Jane Livingston, independent curator, author, and former associate director and chief curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; and H. Louis Sirkin, attorney and founding member of Sirkin Kinsley & Nazzarine, who represented Dennis Barrie and CAC in the obscenity trial provoked by the 1989 Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective, The Perfect Moment. The discussion
will be moderated by Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Give me a Revolution: Artists’ Responses to Censorship
Open with screening of Martha Wilson’s October 24, 2008 performance Barbara Bush: All Washed UP and Guerilla Girls’ HERSTORY and/or “animation” piece.
3:30 p.m.
Panelists include Mike Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone from the Museum of Censored Art; Orameh Bagheri from LA Raw; Bill Dobbs of Art+; and Marshall Reese of Ligorano/Reese Collaborations. The discussion will be moderated by Victoria Reis, executive and artistic director of Transformer.
Free Speech & Arts Funding
4–5:30 p.m.
Panelists include Nora Halpern, vice president of leadership alliances, Americans for the Arts; Michael Keegan, president, People for the American Way; Robert Atkins, art historian, activist, author, and co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Freedom of Express; David A. Smith, senior lecturer in American History at Baylor University, Waco, TX and author of Money for Art: The Tangled Web of Art and Politics in American Democracy. The discussion will be moderated by Andy Grundberg, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies, Corcoran College of Art + Design.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freedom of Expression, In Memoriam!

Thursday January 20, 2011
A brief report on the protest at the Biltmore today. 


Around 11:00 am LA Raw along with volunteers, activists and  community members arrived in front of the Biltmore Hotel carrying a coffin draped in a one dollar bill with a person holding a crucifix with a still image from David Wojnarowicz's "Fire In My Belly" video pasted on. Media from LA Times, New York Times and Associated Press along with other art blogs all showed up, at one point there were about forty protesters who walked back and forth in front of the Biltmore entrances on 5th/ Grand around to 5th/Olive for one hour prior to the begining of the talk. At noon as the talk was about to begin, some of the protesters went into the talk. 


A brief report of Wayne Clough's presentation at the Los Angeles Town Hall

At least 5 people from the demonstration also attended the Los Angeles Town Hall meeting at the Biltmore Hotel where Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian delivered the keynote address. Before reading from his prepared speech, Clough spent the first ten minutes of his 30 minute presentation focusing on the demonstration being held outside the hotel, and supporting the protesters right to demonstrate and their right to exercise free speech.  During the presentation he also praised the Smithsonian for producing Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Paraphrasing what he said, he was under pressure to close the entire exhibition, and believed that removing the David Wojnarowicz video was a small price to pay to keep the rest of this important exhibition open.

During the question and answer session—all of the questions had to be written out ahead of time and handed in—the vast majority of the questions focused on the ongoing censorship controversy.  The first question was whether the exhibition could travel to Los Angeles . Clough replied that it wasn’t intended to travel but certainly could.  At that point, someone from the audience yelled out, “Would it travel uncensored?” but the question was ignored.  Another person who attempted to ask a question from the audience was escorted out by security. 
In response to an additional question, he admitted that the controversy around Hide/Seek could have been handled better, and instead of having removed the piece, there could have been other ways for people to have expressed their objections and opinions.

Carol Wells, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics who was also inside states:

“In spite of Secretary Clough’s defense of his removal of the David Wojnarowicz video, and his admission that in retrospect the situation could have been handled differently, we are unwavering in our position that it is the fundamental obligation of museums and all public institutions to uphold the indispensable American values of free speech and free expression. The current controversy is not the first time the Smithsonian has censored an exhibition, but we are demanding that it is the last.”
Center for the Study of Political Graphics:

LA RAW Protests Museum Censorship during Wayne Clough's visit to L.A.

Thursday January, 20, 2011

Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Museum, recently removed David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video, “A Fire in My Belly,” from a critically acclaimed exhibition about gay-themed portraiture. LA RAW invited Artists and activists, along with supporters of free speech and free expression, to gather at the Biltmore where he was to speak at the Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series, to protest against the escalating art censorship from the Smithsonian to MoCA.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Practice Safe Art!

In response to the whitewashing of a mural nearly completed by Blu on an exterior wall of the MoCA by museum Director Jeffrey Deitch in December 2010, a "Deitch" brand condom was conceived. 
The mural which depicted a series of coffins draped by one dollar bills was removed by Deitch as a friendly gesture to the surrounding veteran community who may be offended and disrespected by such a powerful message speaking of the cost of war, the loss of human life and the reasons behind it. 

It was a stark perspective on war policy and the role of corporate tyranny which has little regard for the value of human life. Though the response to art placed in settings which can be viewed by the public is highly difficult to gage, the value of freedom of expression is a right which must be protected and fought for. If society loses it's ability to have meaningful dialogue, freedom of expression and the right to political dissent then we are in trouble. 

The "Deitch" condoms simply state "Don't Be Blu, Practice Safe Art" playing with a well known public health campaign which utilized the slogan "Practice Safe Sex" . In the case of the "Deitch" condom - the "product" speaks to the disease of censorship and intolerance of political dissent which must be handled by practicing safe art and hindering expression in order to not ruffle the feathers of the powers that be. 

On January 13, 2011 there was a panel discussion at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles titled "How Does Street Art Humanize Cities?" where the condoms were passed out to attendees as they were waiting to enter the discussion. The action of distributing the "Deitch" condoms in such a way at a public gathering was an integral part of the intent and of raising awareness and creating dialogue on an important issue which should be examined and not quietly tucked away. Artistic expression is the human voice and silencing it does not humanize a city. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Protest Escalating Art Censorship from the Smithsonian to MoCA

Photo: Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times
Join a Funeral Procession for Freedom of Expression!

Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:00 AM

Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Museum, recently removed David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video, “A Fire in My Belly,” from a critically acclaimed exhibition about gay-themed portraiture. Clough will speak at the Biltmore on January 20th at noon as part of Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series. Artists and activists, along with supporters of free speech and free expression, will gather at 11 a.m. with props and posters to protest the escalation of art censorship.

Click here for event Info on Facebook


To read the Los Angeles Times article on Wayne Clough's visit to L.A. click here

The Problem With Taking "Art in the Streets" Into the Museum

The Blu mural controversy at MOCA is more than just another case of art world censorship. It is proof positive that street art exhibitions in the museum are inherently flawed and full of contradictions. Jeffrey Deitch's soon-to-be blockbuster show "Art in the Streets" and the whitewashed wall  mural made this point as clear as day.

Deitch, the new L.A. MOCA director, launched a pre-emptive strike on a mural by the Italian street artist Blu that he had commissioned him to paint on the side of the Geffen Contemporary building. Deitch objected to the content of the mural — a series of coffins draped with dollar bills instead of flags — because he felt that it might upset the museum's immediate neighbors, the Japanese-American community and the veteran community at the L.A. Veterans' Affairs Hospital. Deitch asked Blu to repaint the wall with another image, the artist refused, and an art controversy was born.

One might expect that artists in the show would stand firmly in Blu's corner and deride Deitch's rash decision, but the opposite seems to be the case. Passive criticism has been tampered by a parade of artists and cultural producers who have come to the defense of Deitch arguing that "Art in the Streets" is far too important to be derailed by a mural controversy. Shepard Fairey recently stated in the Los Angeles Times, "I'm not a fan of censorship but that is why I, and many of the other artists of the show, chose to engage in street art for its democracy and lack of bureaucracy."

Fairey added the following: "a museum is a different context with different concerns. It would be tragic for the break through of a street art/graffiti show at a respected institution like MOCA to be sabotaged by public outcry over perceived antagonism or insensitivity in Blu's mural." He concluded, "Street art or graffiti purists are welcome to pursue their art on the streets as they always have without censorship. I think that though MOCA wants to honor the cultural impact of the graffiti/street art movement, it only exists in its purist form in the streets from which it arose."

The artist has somehow forgotten that he now predominantly shows in bureaucratic museums. More so, he has miraculously come to the conclusion that the MOCA show will somehow help the overall cause of street art, instead of just his own art career — as if politicians and police departments from around the country will say, "Thank you MOCA, thank you for putting your stamp of approval on the art form. We now love graffiti. Kids, be free, grab your spray paint and cover the city. Maybe one of you will be the next Banksy and we can develop a tourist strategy around this wonderful art form that we once misunderstood."

Fairey is not alone in pronouncing that the show will improve street art's bad rap. Graffiti photographer and chronicler Henry Chalfant tells Hyperallergic: "MOCA couldn't have left the mural there as an affront to the community who considered it sacred ground, and who, in no way, were the deserving targets for the mural's powerful message. With street art, context is all-important. I would have loved to see the mural in front of the offices of Halliburton-KBR or on Wall Street, for America's war profiteers to see."

Chalfant goes on to conclude: "Losing the mural is sad enough and that misfortune will be compounded if the street art exhibition is canceled because the artists drop out to express their outrage. That would be self-defeating."

The misconception here is to think that the veterans were the "targets" of the anti-war mural. Rather, the target is the war. Does Chalfant, and Deitch for that matter, actually believe that all veterans and Japanese Americans are flag-waiving, pro-war patriots? That all Japanese Americans and all veterans think alike — i.e., that they are uncritical of war and easily offended by anti-war art?

If anything, the opposite is the case. Veterans are arguably the one segment of the population that is the most vocal about war, especially opposition to war. Organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War are at the forefront of the anti-war movement. And stereotyping the Japanese American community is just as problematic today as was when FDR and others did it in the 1940s, a mindset that led to internment camps.

The issue, however, runs deeper. I would guess that Chalfant and Fairey offer up such a marginal criticism of the MOCA censorship issue because they do not want to upset the power brokers of the art world, in this case Deitch. Why play down the criticism? Because Deitch holds the keys to what many street-art stars want: an invitation to be part of "Art in the Streets."

This hat-in-hand goal runs counter to what street art was built upon: rebellion, subculture, transgressions, and railing against power, privilege, and private property. Today, many of the highly visible street artists have gone mainstream. Corporations hire street artists to paint billboard advertisements. Street artists have their own merchandise lines with mass produced t-shirts, hoodies, and skateboards that are churned out of the sweatshops of China and the Global South.

Shepard Fairey's images could be seen wheat-pasted all over Pittsburgh in 2009... to promote his museum show at the Warhol. In the U.K., workers employed to clean up graffiti by the Network Rail are instructed not to remove Banksy's stencils because it might negatively impact tourism. Lost in the new rules of the street-art career path and individual branding is dissent and social justice.

I would be shocked if "Art in the Streets" reaches beyond anything but a gala celebration of the genre. An ominous sign is the name of the show itself, which ideally should have been titled "Street Art in the Museum." That name alone might have suggested a more critical exhibition, one that would take a careful look at street art and its history and ask the tough questions. For starters, what happens when a subculture gets too cozy with the brokers of mass cultural and economic power, be it street artists showing in major museums or designing products for corporations? What happens when a genre becomes represented by two polar extremes — celebrated art-world stars and taggers who are viewed as criminals and vandals?

Look at the Banksy phenomenon. Bansky's work fetches prices of a half million dollars in auction houses, and when he — or one his team of assistants — illegally spray paints a stencil on a city wall, the action is celebrated and valued as art. Conversely, when a teenager from Chicago does the same type of work, he or she can expect a felony charge and public scorn. These types of questions are unlikely to be emphasized in a show that parades the who's who in street art from a handful of the genre's capitals.
Perhaps the curators will prove me wrong and provide some pleasant surprises. Blu started the show off on a high note with a thought-provoking work that invited the public to think more critically about the impact of war. However, the erasure of his mural is a bad omen, foreshadowing an exhibit that is likely to simply mirror American society today: divided, distracted, uncritical, star-struck, and lost in consumer culture — including street art consumer culture.

Nicolas Lampert is an artist and a writer who works collectively with the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. A longer version of this essay appears on the Justseeds blog, along with many other writings on political art, street art, and printmaking. The views expressed here are the author's own.

(This article is reproduced with permission from

Monday, January 10, 2011

Uprising Radio discussion of Blu/MOCA censorship and the response protests

Monday, January 10, 2011
Thanks to Uprising Radio on KPFK in Los Angeles for hosting a discussion this morning about MOCA's censorship of Blu, and the recent visual response protest on the museum wall. Carol Wells of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics was in studio representing LA RAW, joining artists Man One and Vyal One in the discussion with host Sonali Kolhatkar. Here is the link to the show segment:
Uprising Radio Monday January 10, 2011

LA RAW Modus Operandi

January 10, 2011
LA RAW was formed by LA based artists & activists around 2 key principles: 1) standing up for freedom of expression and 2) voicing opposition against militarism and war. Our mode of operation generally involves providing a platform for members of the community to express themselves in a creative protest format. Because our format sometimes takes on an "open mic" atmosphere, participants have the freedom to express their own opinions at will. While we support our participants' right to express themselves, it is noted here for the record that the intention of organizers of LA RAW is the promotion of our key principles.

L.A. RAW's blog is the sole source of all official statements and announcements by the group. All inquiries should be directed to contactLARAW at gmail dot com

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Artists protest at MOCA

Monday January 3, 2011
A group of Los Angeles artists and war veterans got together in front of the whitewashed wall at MOCA to hold a street art performance to protest MOCA's censorship of Blu's anti-war mural. A video of the protest was viewed over 30,000 times within the first 48 hours. LA Times posted a report about the event which can be found here.

Downtown LA BLU MOCA Whitewash Protest // 01.03.2011 from jesse trott on Vimeo.

LA Anonymous!

Thursday December 16, 2010
Following the censorship of Blu's mural at MOCA's Geffen building, the first of a series of street art started appearing in Los Angeles.
"LA Anonymous" created Supreme {ARTS} Leader, a paste-up that appeared just a few blocks from MOCA. Images of the artwork spread widely through the internet when LA Times published it the next day.


In December 2010 Los Angeles witnessed a major act of censorship by the Museum of Contemporary Art. Not a single Los Angeles based organization even questioned this shameful act, let alone protest it or defend the freedom of expression.
A group of Los Angeles artists responded by organizing a very successful street campaign, reports of which have been covered by major news and internet media outlets internationally.
As more artists started coming together it seemed only natural to provide a platform for communication, and exchange of ideas.
LA RAW represents this growing collective. All official information, announcements and statements will be posted on this page.
BLU's mural at the L.A. MoCA's Geffen building
There have been many articles covering the aftermath of the whitewash by MoCA's director Jeffrey Deitch. The best article regarding this incident was written by Nicolas Lampert that was published on You can find many other write-ups by simply searching on Google.

WE have also set up a Facebook page for LA RAW for those of you who like to get the news of the future events through Facebook.