“I own the sky!” exclaimed L.A. graf king Saber as his latest project started to unfold at noon today — not on an elusive downtown wall, but in the skies above City Hall. Saber's latest artwork is a sky written protest against the public mural moratorium in place per city hall since 2007.
Long story short, the moratorium's not official. As an artist, you just won't be issued a permit. Even with permission from a property owner, one can be arrested and the owner fined and also jailed.
In the legal protest, executed by six hired skywriting jets and lasting about 45 minutes, the first two passes were call-outs to other LA artists and crews — Revok, Tempt, MSK, LTS, Risky, Ayer and Dream were some. Then down to business: “Art is not a crime. End mural moratorium: twitter at end mural moratorium”
Made possible by donations from Shepard Fairey, Juxtapoz magazine, San Francisco's Upper Playground and even Twitter, all got their own sky-nod for supporting the cause.
The Twitter universe is abuzz with messages from the art community and others simply trying to find out what it means. The audience, which included cops, city hall employees and jurors, found out about the event by passing by, via the live tweeting via @saberawr or from the small group of photogs and friends that gathered to record and witness the feat from the ground.
A formal petition on the issue is up on saberone.com, as well as links to the ordinance, stories and news blurbs recording Los Angeles' recent history of art elimination, as well as a little WPA history. You know that L.A. used to be known as the “Mural Capitol of the World”, right? In Saber's formal statement, he writes, “…taxpayer money is now used to obliterate all traces of the artwork my generation have created. I believe this is city-funded censorship pushed by lawmakers with personal vendettas. Potential jail time is more probable for us than the opportunity of creating an artistic legacy for the next generation…”
Already in the Guinness book of world records for the “World's Largest Graffiti”, Saber's 1997 piece at the L.A. River that could be viewed from space was buffed in 2009 to the rumored tune of $1.2 million dollars. Is he now the world's first graffiti writer to figure out how to tag the sky? Actually, no. “Ron English did it first, but he just wrote 'cloud',” says Saber. “Hopefully this will motivate others to stop this crazy moratorium and bring public art back to LA.”
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