We've long admired the street art photography captured in the blog LA Taco, so we got in touch with editor Erich Redson to learn more about what it takes to capture the beautiful (and often fleeting) street art around Los Angeles.
HP: Why do you focus on something that other Los Angeles residents might call an eyesore, graffiti, or crime? What would you say to street art detractors or city officials with a budget for graffiti removal?
ER: Our site focuses on street culture including street food and street art. We want to highlight the best and most interesting art that goes up on LA's streets. I don't have much to say to detractors, art is always a matter of opinion. Graffiti removal is part and parcel of the system, although sometimes it verges on the absurd, such as the removal of the world's largest tag.
Photos courtesy of LA Taco. To see more street art, check out LATaco.com.
HP: Can you talk about how time is of the essence when capturing these images? They can go up and down with little fanfare or notice.
ER: Part of the nature of graffiti is that it is illegal art, placed in locations that the artist does not own. The work can be removed, dissed by another writer, or destroyed within hours of going up. Part of the beauty of this kind of art is that it is transient, ephemeral, and mysterious. The best photographers know where to look and and are constantly roving the city looking for new stuff.
HP: What's your opinion on the flap between Jeffrey Deitch and Blu's anti-war mural?
ER: I don't think we know the whole story. Jeffrey Deitch has done perhaps more then anyone else to make street art commercial, and has helped many writers make serious money for their work. I am sure that other forces were at work in the removal of the mural and it would be much more interesting to know who really wanted the mural removed. This is the difference between running a gallery and running a museum, and the real story has to be more interesting then what we've heard.
HP: Last week, Zócalo hosted a discussion on whether street art humanizes cities. Do you think the pieces you feature in LA TACO make Los Angeles a more welcoming place?
ER: The street art scene in Los Angeles is probably the most vibrant in the world. Tourists from other countries are already coming to LA specifically to see our street art, and as this artform grows in popularity this will only increase. You will learn more about LA by driving around and looking at free, legal and illegal art than you will by opening the newspaper.