There was always something remotely hip-hop about Sesame Street. Elmo, Big Bird, the Count, Oscar the Grouch — especially Oscar the Grouch — looked like they'd really seen some shit in their eternal youth. They swaggered through life lessons with a knowing limp, putting some soul into the ABCs of every square kid everywhere.
Which makes their new partnership with L.A.'s biggest and bestest graffiti collective, the Seventh Letter Crew — with Neff Headwear on the bill, too, for some sweet Grouch beanies — an easy transition. An exhibit of Seventh Letter artists' interpretations of the famed kids show ran for two nights only this past weekend at Known Gallery.
A video about the show
It helps that the Sesame Street characters have become less a brand and more a symbol of life, like Mickey Mouse or the Campbell's Soup can. But anyway, the 100-plus artists in Seventh Letter have never shied from corporate sponsorship. As Shelley Leopold wrote in L.A. Weekly circa 2007:
Having done paying jobs for Adidas, Boost Mobile, Nike and Scion, Seventh Letter members may get heat from other artists for selling out, but they refer to their opportunities as “buying in.” Why let a junior designer in an ad agency attempt the crew's style when the real guy can do it better and faster and offer the product a little credibility?
And why risk a run-in with the notoriously anti-graf L.A. City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, when they could be revered on the walls of Known, a space at the forefront of L.A.'s recent embrace of street art as art art. It's been a real refugee camp during these criminal times.
Neff Headwear, like Known, sees the business opportunity in plasticizing Seventh Letter's scrawl, once so organic and temporary. Forbes recently wrote, “The company is careful about protecting and maintaining its underground action sports reputation. The strategy has certainly worked so far.”
Hence the sweet Grouch beanies.
At the private opening of “Sesame Street” last Friday night, the crowd was breathtakingly hip and all-ages in a way L.A. can only accomplish on Fairfax. Swear we saw a 12-year-old with graffiti carved into his fade. (We were kind of scared he might get crushed by the 7-foot-tall model with the cheetah heels.)
Of the dozens of Sesame Street interpretations by Seventh Letter street artists at Known, there were of course some terrible ones, just like any good graffiti wall. But then there were those that almost brought tears to our eyes, so badly did we wish to break-dance with Bert's alter-ego, a tribal-tattooed Tyson character cupping a dove.
Yeah, you heard right. Here are the 10 hardest scenes from the night.