With the Art in the Streets exhibit closing on August 8 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch talks with L.A. Weekly about the impact of the widely-acclaimed show on the public and in the art world.

“This is the beginning of the writing of the history of street art,” says Deitch inside the cavernous museum that's packed with work by Banksy, Ed Templeton, Lee Quinones, and many others.

On Monday afternoon, a long line of street art enthusiasts stretched for more than block outside MOCA, waiting to get a last glimpse of history writing in the making.

In April, when Art in the Streets opened, Deitch had big hopes for the exhibit that features artists from the 1970s and up to today.

“One of the goals of this show is to place the best of these artists coming out of street culture into the context of contemporary art history,” Deitch previously told the Weekly.

Today, the director of MOCA believes the art world and the public have reacted more than positively to the exhibit.

“I wish we had another two months because people have been very enthusiastic for the show,” says Deitch. “It certainly connected with a large local audience — it's wonderful to have all of the young people and to have the diversity here. We're also getting very sophisticated people from the art professional audience.”

Ed Templeton: "Wires Crossed" (2011); Credit: Patrick Range McDonald

Ed Templeton: “Wires Crossed” (2011); Credit: Patrick Range McDonald

Street artists, says Deitch, have also been major fans of the show.

“I have people coming up to me very emotional, with tears in their eyes, thanking me for putting their work on display like this,” he says.

Deitch says he was surprised that the historical part of the show that features old school artists such as Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy has also been hit with the public.

“It's packed up there all the time,” says Deitch. “People really want to learn.”

Deitch says it was “unfortunate” that the Brooklyn Museum pulled out of hosting the next showing of Art in the Streets. “It would have been the most popular exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum,” says the museum director. But he says it's “very likely” that the show will soon end up somewhere in New York City.

For a final look in Los Angeles, the show ends on Monday, August 8.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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