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Shepard Fairey's Peace Elephant, 2011, in progress at the public library in West Hollywood
Shepard Fairey's Peace Elephant, 2011, in progress at the public library in West Hollywood


July 27, 2011

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Three artists from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition have teamed up with the city of West Hollywood to paint a series of murals on the walls of the new public library’s parking lot on Melrose and San Vincente Boulevard. LA MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch toured the library while it was under construction and thought its walls would make “an ideal extension” of the exhibition, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On one section, local artist Shepard Fairey painted his largest work to date, Peace Elephant, a 70 x 106 ft. black, red and yellow mural of a dove and an elephant holding a flower in its trunk. He and artist David Wiseman are also planning works for inside the library. Fellow Los Angeles-based street artist Retna has painted scrawling blue text that supposedly consists of quotes from author Salman Rushdie, though the artwork is written in code. Elsewhere, Kenny Scharf painted a giant cluster of his signature smiley heads.

Despite police and public outcry that the exhibition is inspiring a surge in graffiti in Los Angeles, the city approved the project (MoCA selected the artists) and is paying for a protective anti-graffiti coating on the graffiti art. The museum and the artists are supplying the rest of the funds. Fairey took a wry approach to any possible controversy, writing on his website,: “Calm down taxpayers. . . . I was not paid to do the mural and paid for my own supplies and labor. Thanks for the wall space though.”

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