The fraught relationship between corporate sponsorship and street art will once again be on display this Thursday, when 20 emerging street artists from all over Southern California compete in a Red Bull-sponsored competition. The stakes? Three all-expense paid trips to a "Red Bull Curates" group show during the Art Basel season 2012 in Miami, where they'll have the opportunity to exhibit and sell their works to tens of thousands of artists, art gallery reps, art fans, and, of course, art buyers.
The energy drink company is partnering with the Arts Fund, a branded entertainment company, to produce this contest and three more in Chicago, New York and Miami throughout the rest of the year, which will produce 12 semi-finalists that will compete against each other for a still-to-be-determined grand prize in Miami.
For the past two days, the LA artists have gathered at Lab Art, a street art gallery on La Brea Avenue, to put their personal stamp on Red Bull drink coolers that will then be voted on at a Thursday night launch party. After the three winners are announced, all the drink coolers are headed to various hotspots around town (like Tropicana Room, The Brig, Silverlake Lounge and Akbar) where they will live, permanently stocked with Red Bull drinks.
When The Huffington Post visited Lab Art Monday evening, a handful of artists were putting the finishing touches on their coolers. Street artist Cristian Gheorghiu, better known as Smear, described his work on the piece to The Huffington Post as "hanging out, drinking beers and bullsh*tting." When asked what his work was titled, he tossed out the company motto as a joke: "Red Bull Gives You Wings!"
Likewise, artist THANK YOU X smiled when he said his piece, entitled, "Not For Sale," was about "selling out."
See profiles of five artists from Thursday's competition in the slideshow below. To see all the pieces and vote for your favorite ones, attend the Red Bull Curates launch party on Thursday, Apr. 5 at 9 p.m. For more information and to RSVP to this free event, visit RedBullUSA.com.
Photos by The Huffington Post.