Crewest modernizes urban artwork

With all the urban art  displayed in museums and galleries, it’s easy to think that if you’ve seen one street art show, you’ve seen them all. But that would be a terrible misunderstanding.

Avant-garde · Max Neutra captivates viewers by mixing media and materials, such as spray paint and sculpture, giving his compositionally complex work an exaggerated sense of three-dimensionality. - Eva Recinos | Daily Trojan

Among the galleries highlighting the many styles of street art is the Downtown Los Angeles Crewest Gallery. The gallery is currently displaying “Audio Canvas 3,” an exhibition that showcases the talent of a few chosen artists and pairs their craft with live music. At the show’s opening, artists created their pieces while tunes were doled out by a nearby DJ. The  white walls of the gallery became the canvases for colorfully explosive, exciting pieces.

Though not all the pieces are created straight on the wall, there are no reservations about going beyond the canvas.

Vyal Reyes’ piece, an untitled work created mostly on a vertical frame, comes to life as it flows onto the walls of the canvas. It’s a highly detailed work with lots of energy and plenty of bubble-like figures. The work sticks to a limited color palette and creates the illusion of shining forms with expert touches of white. Though the swirling composition makes the piece look like something out of a dream, the bubble-like creations are deftly colored so that their shape is realistic. By letting the paint go beyond the conventional canvas, Reyes makes the piece maintain its street art edge.

Even the pieces that are on canvases manage to have a movement and emotional depth that would capture the attention of passers by.

Man One’s piece “Reaching Up” is not only aesthetically fascinating but also philosophically interesting. Man One, who also owns Crewest, created the piece with a narrative in mind. The vertical canvas shows a bright otherworldly figure reaching up for the top of a spray paint can, a symbol for how street art can lift you out of negativity. The work is part of a series of characters that Man One calls “graffiti spirits.” The background of the piece, which is white, save for a few graffiti tags, represents the negativity the artist finds in the city and the “graffiti spirit” in the foreground rises from it all.

The figure is mysterious and slightly frightening. Man One’s use of bright colors against a gray background makes the spirit even more impactful; the colors are blended to create sharp contrasts, and small dashes of color are placed sporadically throughout to add variety, depth and shadows. You’re hard-pressed to find any area that is exactly one solid color.

The exhibition also includes works from Black Light Kings, a combo made up of street artists Axa and Pops. During the day, the artists’ pieces are complex and fascinating to look at, but at night a black light goes onto its surface and the pieces are transformed. Three pieces on the right show creepy, dark scenes including a skull face. To the right is a sprawling, highly detailed work with everything from a realistic human heart to a crazed jungle cat. The larger piece uses canvas and wall, but the three framed pieces include butterflies that are spray painted onto the wall.

But not all the show consists of dark matter. Max Neutra’s playful pieces are humorous and visually intriguing. Save for a few canvases, “Ice Cream” —  a smaller segment within the larger artwork — is placed directly on the wall, amazing viewers with its impressive size.

Neutra plays with the composition of the piece as a whole; he chooses to spray paint a small pedestal on the wall and mounts his piece “Ice Cream” on top. The ice cream cone itself is on a small canvas but is worth a closer look. The cone is actually three cones — a stack of pink, blue and black cones — that line up to create a visually fascinating image of a common object.

“Eye” is a dazzling piece, especially considering its ordinary subject. The eye is created with multi-colored hues, and Neutra lets the colors drip down, adding a dramatic and interesting effect. His other works are equally stimulating, resembling bright images from comic book pages.

This group of artists’ work creates a show that proves street art is continuing to grow. “Audio Canvas 3” might be a somewhat small exhibition, but it makes up for its size by presenting an impressive spectrum of art styles. When you drive away, you might even spot one of the works in its natural habitat.


Crewest Gallery is located on 110 Winston St. “Audio Canvas 3” runs through Jan. 29.

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