The Best Of L.A. Street Art / Los Angeles
Exhibiting work in the Los Angeles Arts District is a bittersweet homecoming for graffiti artist and painter Saber. When he was starting out in the art world in his teens – “just a kid,” he says – he would go there to paint graffiti on every wall he could find.
“You couldn’t even come near this neighborhood without a group of friends and someone being strapped,” said Saber, now in his mid-thirties. “We would come here and paint these walls at our own risk. And I saw friends go. I saw friends die; I saw friends put away for just expressing themselves.”
During his more than 15-year career, Saber has developed epilepsy from paint fume inhalation and lost friends and fellow artists to street violence and incarceration, some of them sent to maximum-security prisons.
His story mirrors those of other street artists in a culture that at once criminalizes their work and celebrates it.
“We risked everything to do it,” Saber said. “It is what it is. If I don’t paint, I don’t exist.”