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LA Street Artist Thank You X Reaches New Heights

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Much of today's street art is reflective of Andy Warhol's signature style of celebrity iconography, stenciled composites, and above all, repetition of imagery. It is no wonder Warhol's ideas, Sixties images, and commercial success have inspired young artists to take to the streets. So it is both intuitively astute and perfectly logical to see Andy Warhol's stenciled visage appear across Los Angeles over the past year signed simply "Thank You, X."

Thank You X intended his moniker to simply be "X," the penultimate pseudonym of an anonymous artist. But as curious fans might not be able to Google "X" at their workplace without fear of reprisal, "Thank You X" has stuck as his nom de guerre.

The image of Warhol used in X's pieces is from a lesser-known photo taken by an assistant of Warhol's to build his portfolio. The casual, unguarded spontaneity in this head shot of Warhol looking away suggests a genuine appreciation of a subject whose mind is often elsewhere.

And it is a similar appreciation that drives Thank You X to convey his gratitude for the trails blazed by Warhol, an accomplished artist in an array of disciplines. Perhaps as much as his oft-quoted "15 minutes of fame" and classic colorful stencils that defined Pop Art, Warhol's enduring contribution to our multimedia culture today is his defiance of labels or limits to his artwork.

Many still debate the artistry or innovation in replicating Campell's Soup labels, painting famous people in funny colors, or filling a gallery with silver balloons. Nevertheless, Warhol's energy and aesthetic still connects, and is actively inspiring young artists today.

Thank You X has made his mark not just by his Warhol homage, accented with flourishes of paint, but by his preternatural ability to decorate higher-up spots of the Los Angeles landscape. Posting one's artwork alongside a stand-alone piece of strategically placed street art (known as "spot-jacking") is no small feat to achieve with some of Thank You X's pieces.

I had the privilege to document the artist at work, seen in the photos below. Thank You X's artwork can be seen indoors at LAB ART on La Brea at Third Street in Los Angeles, and can be seen online at ThankYouX.com.

Thank You X at work
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John Wellington Ennis is following street art as an emerging form of political speech for his forthcoming documentary PAY 2 PLAY.