Montana LA, a newly opened art boutique selling spray paint in Echo Park, caters to graffiti artists who create murals and other rich displays of creativity in Los Angeles.
While the shop has become a hit with local artists, as first reported on the blog The Eastsider, some critics fear the store would supply spray paint to thugs who regularly deface public property.
"I don't think we're the problem," said Montana LA partner and graffiti artist Kelly Gravel, who goes by the moniker "RISK". "The real problem are the Walmarts and 99 Cent stores that sell the cheap spray paint cans. If people came inside, they'd see that it's a legitimate art store."
The store boasts thousands of high end spray paint from German-based company Montana Cans. Customers can choose from a wide assortment of paint cans ranging from Five to Eleven dollars. Taggers would rather buy the cheaper spray paint sold at discount retailers than fork over the extra cash to get the high end products offered at Montana LA, Gravel said.
The inside aesthetics also reveals the store's goal of serving the artistic community with part of the interior reflecting L.A.'s urban setting. A brick wall lines one side of the wall complete with a fire hydrant and parking meter. Artwork is prominently displayed in the middle of the wall to showcase local talent.
"I just want people to be educated about graphic artists and not believe everything they hear on the news," Gravel said. "Graffiti artists often create murals over tag-ridden walls."
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Graffiti Art has slowly seeped into the mainstream with the "Arts In The Street" exhibition set to open up in 2011 at L.A's Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit will survey the history of street art and graffiti.
Gravel cited the upcoming MOCA exhibition as proof that graffiti art has become legitimized in the mainstream.