According to a local favorite blog The Eastsider LA, a boutique dedicated to all things graffiti will open up later this month in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Kelly Raval, a partner in the store, stated it will stock about "4,000 cans of paint, includng a custom-made display rack with 3,000 canisters priced at about $6 each. On the other side of the store, a faux street scene wall - complete with a brick wall, fire hydrant and parking meter - will serve as a gallery of spray paint art created by visiting artists." Photos below courtesy of The Eastsider LA:
There is already considerable debate about whether the store's presence will exacerbate the tagging problem which exists in the neighborhood already. The store owners insist that their focus is on art, not graffiti.
This area of Los Angeles - Echo Park, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, etc. - does have a graffiti/tagging issue. This neighborhood also happens to usually be considered the most artistic area in Los Angeles where graffiti artists, MFA students and emerging musicians all congregate in a bohemian/yuppie/gentrifying context with the long-time locals as well as myriad Hollywood types.
World-famous graf artist Banksy, who many believe instigated the global phenomenon of street art culture, held an exhibition in a downtrodden warehouse in downtown Los Angeles in 2006. Many people are for some reason inclined to think that this spectacle of a show, Barely Legal, was Banksy's first Los Angeles exhibition (maybe it was the presence of celebrity art lovers such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Perry Farrell that skewed this perception) but it was actually his second exhibit in the city. Though I was lucky enough to have attended that highly anticipated opening with the big red elephant in the room, I missed Banky's actual first exhibit in Los Angeles which was held in Silver Lake, in a nondescript little art gallery on Silver Lake Boulevard in 2002 (and is no longer in business there). My husband Nikos, a long time Silver Lake stakeholder, did attend this exhibit and has observed Banksy emerge from virtually unknown to becoming a household name.
Because this area of the city is so artistically inclined and liberal with its values, I can't say I'm surprised by the news that someone has decided to open up a shop for graffiti artists here. The shop will likely run into resistance from certain locals while being embraced by others. While we cannot predict how this store's presence will affect the city's current vandalism issues, I somehow doubt that "gang-affiliated" taggers will frequent the boutique as much as plain old artists will, graffiti types or otherwise.