Pop Goes the Easel

Pop Goes the Easel

By Alexandra Whitten

Street art finds a home in American Fine Art exhibition.

The inside of American Fine Art may look a little brighter this month. The 12,000-square-foot gallery, which typically houses 19th- to 21st-century classics and masterworks by legends like Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, will be transformed with bright colors, thick brush strokes, spray paint and splashes of comic book characters.

Their latest exhibit, American Fine Street Art, brings some of the most influential and illustrious street and pop artists to Old Town Scottsdale.

The gallery is excited to host a phenomenal new collection of more than a hundred works, including paintings, proofs and limited edition prints.  Admission is free, and if you love them, all works are available for purchase along with complimentary consulting services.

“That’s the differentiation between us and a museum or any other exhibit is guests have the opportunity to purchase these original works,” Courtney Hood, vice president of gallery development, says.

In recent years, the street art movement has grown. Through rising popularity, street artists’ work has transformed from acts of vandalism to sought-after high art pieces.  In the realm of the art world, what these “urban” artists are doing can be likened to pop art, in that both are expressing ideas from popular culture and both were radically controversial at their time of creation.

Many of these street artists refrain from the typical tagging and graffiti, and instead put a lot of planning and work into their pieces. For example, Invader, a current street artist, glues or cements tiles to public places to create 8-bit works. Stencil artists cut and create their own art stencils and even hide themselves and their works inside fake construction scaffoldings until they are finished. Although their artwork may be unsanctioned and executed outside of traditional art venues, American Fine Art’s exhibit of their works helps to legitimize their subculture in the fine art world.

The featured artists range from the revolutionary, like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, to the edgy Banksy. Even some new, up-and-coming street artists such as Bambi and DV8 will be included in the show. Some other street and POP artists one can expect are Murakami, Mr. Brainwash, and Dotmasters.

“We’re working with not only major, world-renowned street artists, like Banksy and Brainwash, but also other artists who are just starting as street artists. So it’s kind of all levels we’re working with,” Hood says.

According to Hood, the works of Warhol and Haring were integral to the movement of street art and pop art. Their works revolutionized how people approach fine art and the techniques used to create it. “They revolutionized and paved the way for artists like Banksy, who are really doing the same thing, just taking it a step further,” she says. Banksy, the mysterious artist with an unknown identity, is best known for his dry wit within his controversial, and often politically charged, stenciled pieces.

Banksy was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Exit through the Gift Shop. The documentary, shot by fellow artist Thierry Guetta, otherwise known as Mr. Brainwash, grabbed the attention of collectors. The documentary skyrocketed Brainwash’s popularity, making him one of the most famous contemporary artists. Visitors have a chance to view the documentary within the exhibit at American Fine Art.

One of the pop artists, Murakami, is known as the “Japanese Warhol” because of his vivid creations and kawaii (or “cute”) illustrations. His work parallels that of Warhol – walls of the exhibit are lined with neon colors, pop culture references, and many iterations of the classic Campbell’s Soup Cans.

As far as what to expect in the exhibit, Hood says guests can “expect the unexpected.” 

The American Fine Street Art exhibit is open for viewing 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday by appointment-only through February 28th at American Fine Art, 3908 N. Scottsdale Road. Admission is free. For more information, call 480-990-1200 or visit novaro.com.