Vibin’ to Unity
By Leyna Roget
It’s starts with the beat. Then a flash, a shape, and the hip-hop sounds ignite a flow of creative musings. Artistic minds collectively draw, paint and spray a vibrant fusion of text, illustration, and graffiti onto blank canvases. The collaborative form is created with freestyle precision as Unification Theory, an improvisational performance art band, entertains spectators at an urban art gallery in downtown Los Angeles. The exceptionally talented artists in this crew have found it’s about challenging the conventions of contemporary art, creating a harmony of mind and form, and possessing a relentless determination to maintain a career in art.
ManOne, sensational muralist, graffiti artist and owner of the underground art space Crewest Gallery, focuses on showcasing work of up and coming unconventional and edgy artists around LA. With a desire to expose art that speaks to the heart and soul, as well as the mind, ManOne launched Unification Theory along with fellow established artists Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca and Overton Loyd. Their experimental vision of art has led to exhibitions like Infinite Libraries, a compilation of fourteen international artists whose work visually reinterprets texts written by Alberto Garcia Vaca about imaginary collections of ideas or ‘infinite libraries’.
Crewest Gallery also invites LACMA MUSE members, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art membership group for young artists and art enthusiasts, to connect with the minds of some less familiar with the urban art movement. Rachel Clarke, a MUSE member and first time Crewest Gallery visitor, recognizes the presence of graffiti art and sees the artwork from Unification Theory as an organized extension of sometimes chaotic tags around LA. “There was an expanded scenery on this billboard, really stunning,” explains Clarke, “somebody like that needs to be putting that to use – I can’t say putting it on that billboard wasn’t good use you know, I get tired of looking at the same billboard everyday. And it was really, really interesting.”
Unlike some of the profoundly intricate graffiti pieces found in around LA, like the Belmont Tunnel, Garey Street in the Arts District, and Gower Street in Hollywood, Unification Theory approaches their creative process with little to no preplanned design concepts. Their goal is to create a uniquely improvised art experience for each performance session they do. This means creating with a clear mind, being receptive to all present influences, and allowing one’s imagination to transcend directly to paper. ManOne explains that graffiti is typically conveyed using aerosol spray paint, but that this unrestrained method allows for a variety of materials to free up their expression, including graphite, charcoal, paint markers, and stickers. The melded results are harmonious visual and sonic compositions.
The Unification Theory trio is composed of successful commercial artists. Loyd has worked to create album covers for legendary Funk group Parliament–Funkadelic and illustrations for Cartoon Network. ManOne had a strong presence in the LA Graffiti movement, and has made murals for commercial companies like MTV and ESPN. Alberto Garcia Vaca has exhibited his artwork in galleries across the globe and published his writings in literary anthologies. Working as an independent artist involves both developing your aesthetic sensibilities as well as learning how to be an entrepreneur. “Why do people think art making is so easy?” reflects ManOne, “it takes a lot of pushing your name and putting it in people’s faces, and reminding them that you do this…you gotta wake up early and hit the pavement.” Whether a professional artist or not, it remains clear that one needs to be energized and motivated to bring his/her art to the public’s attention. Once eyes are on you it’s time to show people that pallet of originality, and for Unification Theory it comes through with an energy and vibe of unity.
To admire some of the artist’s individual work, definitely visit their websites below!
Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca
Soundtrack by LADYBOYS (Song: idk)