Felix the Cat in the 18b
There's more evidence those mischievous artists are playing in the neighborhood where street art miscellany thrives. This stencil of Felix the Cat is a harsh hurried spray of black, and the smile that we know as a greeting is, in this unauthorized form, a taunt to authority. Felix is still up for now.
It’s also a freakish assemblage. Instead of the unclothed solid black torso of the Pat Sullivan produced feline, the body and dressing are vintage Mickey Mouse from 1928's "Steamboat Willie."
It doesn’t have the elegant craft and self-authored visual whimsy left behind by a small gaggle of street artists, but there is much to read from this supposedly inconsequential stencil where South First Street bends into Boulder Ave.
It’s a reminder of the trickster, the cinematic protagonists of Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp and Johnny Deep’s Captain Jack Sparrow; characters that dodged fate and authority with quips and footwork. That has this installation of animated cat introduce a new reading of small-scale work by being a connection between the trickster trope and street art, slightly shifting it away from the pop-culture bond between graffiti writers and hip-hop.
Rafael Schacter, London anthropologist and curator, compares the street artist to the trickster in “Ornament and Color” when writing the use of wheat-paste, stickers and stencils has a “tight connection between ritual, play and clowning.” That’s seen when local and out-of-town tricksters work the public space of the 18b Arts District. The ad hoc portfolio of this street art isn’t demanding the reshaping of a neighborhood’s texture and meaning. The artists are playing on the 18b’s declaration it’s a part of town that’s an active art zone.
That could lead to another connection between street art and Las Vegas. The popularity of this animation figurehead came from silent film showing misadventures in surreal lands. Las Vegas sends constant invitations to do the same. To gamble, game, play, and find misadventures in simulated landscapes with surreal animated edifices. The town is built for the ephemeral tourist wanting to greet their inner trickster.
Tupac blinded by bleeding American stamps was once on the side of a dumpster. Later, the Vasily Kandinsky-like abstraction of a crucifixion by an undisclosed artists was seen. Together it shows often worshipped figures in the street art canon.
When 2015 Life is Beautiful kicked off, artists were critical of the Interesno Kazki mural from 2014 taken down only a few weeks it was completed.
A large poster from Indecline began an appearance on the Commerce Ave wall in early January.
Donna Beam Gallery
Through October 26, 2018
FOUNDER + WRITER
G. James Daichendt