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The TED Prize-Winning Street Artist JR Blankets L.A. with Work The TED Prize-Winning Street Artist JR Blankets L.A. with Work

The TED Prize-Winning Street Artist JR Blankets L.A. with Work

by Alissa Walker
February 26, 2011


Too bad a certain graffiti artist covering L.A. with his trite illustrations has been stealing the thunder from one of the city's most exciting street art exhibitions in years. JR, the French street artist who will be awarded the TED Prize in Long Beach next weekend, has finally brought his Wrinkles of the City project to town, plastering large-format photos of a neighborhood's inhabitants along its buildings. Across Los Angeles, you'll soon find the black-and-white, tightly-cropped eyes of local citizens staring you down from forgotten walls.

In the spirit of JR's community-minded work, he won't just disappear into the vaunted halls of the TED conference next week. He'll also be launching a TED Prize experience at Phantom Galleries LA in Long Beach that will be open to the public March 3 and 4. It's an especially apt location since Phantom Galleries LA has also been responsible for dozens of pop-up art spaces which have occupied L.A.'s all-too-vacant real estate. Founder and director Liza Simone sees a real connection between those pop-ups and the public nature of JR's art. "Both put contemporary fine art into accessible locations, pushing art into everyday life while creating unexpected art experiences," she says. "This inspires an environment that is rich and deep with possibility where anything can happen."

Given TED's hyper-exclusive nature, this is a truly unique opportunity for the general public to experience JR's TED Prize wish in person, a wish which he will announce at the conference (and anyone can watch live on March 2). The kick off event will help outline how the general public can engage in JR's mission. After the conference, he'll also get a healthy honorarium —$100,000!—to help implement his wish.

As for the Wrinkles of the City pieces, which continue to appear, the LA Weekly will be revealing the locations of all 20 pieces as they go up. They've created a Google map for all you street-art scavengers, and have an in-depth series of pieces about JR and his process. The show at Phantom Galleries will be open Thursday, March 3, from noon to 7:00 p.m. and Friday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 170 N. Promenade, Long Beach, California, 90802.

Photo by Shannon Cottrell

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