In 2006, the Crewest gallery relocated to Downtown’s Historic Core from Alhambra. At the beginning, only 50 to 60 people would drop by during Art Walk. Now, founder and owner Man One said in a recent interview, 1,200 to 1,500 visit during a three hour period.
That’s a lot of eyes on the works at Crewest – mainly street art including graffiti and spray paint art. It’s all part of Man One’s goal to educate people on the artistic legitimacy behind street art. As a graffiti artist since 1987, Man One has had ample experience working in the genre, becoming renowned in the street art scene in L.A., his native-city, and abroad.It’s clear that he’s committed to upholding a high standard for street art at Crewest. When I visited during a recent Art Walk, the quality, quantity and diversity of works on display impressed me. (And don’t forget the party atmosphere – a DJ blared mix ups and mash ups nonstop.) In the front room a series of oversized spray paint portraits by Man One dominated the wall space opposite a case of spray paints for sale. The bright colors and exaggerated facial angles of the paintings created a dramatic effect.
Next, a large barrel caught my eye. It was positioned prominently in the center of the next room, so that all visitors were compelled to walk around it to get anywhere. Its base color was deep grape purple, but over that were two faces, one on each side. One had opened eyes, the other, closed. Almost like the classic comedy/tragedy mask.
As I browsed the other works I decided to not attempt to view each individualy, but to allow the most striking works to grab my attention. Otherwise, the colors and shapes were just too overwhelming! I was soon rewarded with “Ninos Heroes” by EnikOne. The print featured a woman wrapped in an American flag – except the blue background was replaced by green so that the fabric shared the same colors as the Mexican flag. She stood in front of “Patty’s Liquor” – a street scene that could be called, “Anywhere, Los Angeles.” As is also typical, the liquor store was adorned with graffiti that read “Ninos Heroes de Los Angeles” – the Children Heroes of Los Angeles.
But probably the most striking work was also the smallest – a mini version of a much-tagged New York subway train stationed in a much-tagged tunnel, by DrilOne. Every detail was perfectly replicated from the train numbers on the side of the car to the appearance of grime. The graffiti looked authentic, but also stylistic. Without a doubt, it was the best example of literally bringing the street inside the gallery.