Story by TK Mills
I was looking for an escape from New York when Dirt told me about a show he was putting together in Los Angeles. The next day I had my tickets set for the west coast.
For my time in the City of Angels, I rented a red Dodge Charger, and after struggling to find parking, I was pleasantly surprised to see the hotel had an affordable valet – $10 for the evening. Inside, guests are treated to a plush plaza, complete with lounge chairs and art-deco architecture.
Hosted by Regime Contemporary within the Mayfair Hotel, ‘Dirt Cobain & Friends’ was curated with a diversity of styles in mind. Dirt explained, “When I curated the show I wanted to keep it to my friends and people that I like and respect as artists. Especially artists that are active, people that are constantly doing work.”
Dirt Cobain showing off his candle brand
The roster included AngelOnce, Balloonski, Berk Visual, Cyrus the Virus, Davia King, GoopMasta, Kafka, Izmrock, Life After Death, Morley, Phobik, SellOut, UnCutArt, and Padhia, better known by her instagram handle, Unfuk Yourself. With quality display in mind, Dirt told all the artists to make their submissions the same size: 48×36 inches. The perfectly lined pieces gave the walls a sleek professional look to the round-up.
The Mayfair Hotel has a storied history. Established in 1926, the downtown hotel was the location of the first Academy Awards after-party in 1929, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin partied in the exposed-brick ballroom. Noir novelist Raymond Chandler wrote his short story, “I’ll be Waiting” while living in the Mayfair in the 1930s. Eve Cressy, one of the main characters in the story, lends her name to the hotel’s restaurant “The Eve American Bistro,” run by Scott Commings, winner of Season 12 of Hell’s Kitchen.
The Mayfair lobby
The lobby is adorned with marble columns and ritzy sofas that fill the cavernous space. Along the ceiling, black-grated box lights project the design of the hotel’s original tiles. The Mayfair underwent massive renovations in recent years, as the owners sought to restore the jazz-age hotel to its proper glory. It was in their ambition to combine LA cool with art world class that the Mayfair partnered with Regime to decorate the hotel.
Regime Contemporary is located on the second floor and serves as the permanent in-house gallery. Featuring a “balanced blend of fine art and photography” the art management team seeks to display exhibits that “challenge conventional modes of art production and presentation.” Regime is run by graffiti legend Kelly Graval, better known by his tag ‘RISK’ alongside Brian Grief, the director of ‘Saving Banksy,’ as well as Kevin Zinger and Ivory Daniel.
Work by RISK, one of the owners of Regime
Beyond running the gallery, Regime is an artist management company that boasts street art notables like Tristan Eaton and D*Face among their ranks, as well as Evidence of the Hip-Hop group Dilated People’s (whose photography decorates the Mayfair’s staircases) and many others.
I grabbed an old-fashioned from the bar, as a free jazz show played in the backroom, and made my way upstairs to check out the art for ‘Dirt Cobain & Friends,’ speaking with some of the artists and others involved to learn how the show came together.
Left to Right: Izm Rock, AngelOnce, AngelOnce, SellOut, Phobik, Phobik
I’m Traci P and I’m an art coordinator with Regime 72 and the Regime Contemporary Gallery over here at the Mayfair Hotel.
Tell me about Regime.
Regime is an all-encompassing company. We manage a lot of artists from musicians, to visual artists, as well as athletes. We’re all across the board. We manage Risk and other big names… We have DJ Muggs, Baboo, Common Kings… Matisyahu. We have a laundry of all stars. The people that I work with have had their hand in artist management for about 20 years and they’ve done a lot in the art world. So it was a natural progression for them to open up in the Mayfair once they had the opportunity. It’s an honor to takeover such a historic spot and curate it in a different way.
How did you Meet Dirt?
I recently moved here from San Francisco. I knew Dirt from back in SF. We were loosely affiliated and became friends. I really dug his art. It’s one of those common bond things. We respect one another and we have a lot of friends in common. I really dig his style — that grimy, holy grail of street art kind of shit.
Dirt Cobain’s iconic pill bottles
How do you feel street art vibes with Regime?
With Risk being one of the curators of the hotel and the gallery, we wanted to maintain that cool Los Angeles feel. That was the vibe the hotel was going for — the real LA street art and graffiti vibe. Who better to curate someone like that then the man, the legend, Risk himself. It took on a life its own. We have art throughout the entire space. Every floor has a different artist. Whether it’s Revok from MSK, Seen the Godfather of Graffiti, or Colombo. It’s real LA. Little pop ups like this give us a chance to really hone in on artists that are on the ground and on the site. It’s a full gambit, a full whole array. Not just the high-end people but also paying homage to the artists who are up-and-coming.
Anything else you want to share?
As someone who loves Regime and Mayfair as a whole, come peep it. We do a lot of shows
free shows, three nights a week. We bring in everything from hip-hop to rock to jazz. I personally curate a show called Fanny Pack with female DJs and hip-hop. We do rotating shows with Chemist from Jurassic 5 and Fat-Lip from the Pharcyde plus rotating openers. And it’s all free. You know what I’m saying? The drink is strong and the vibe is cool.
Left to Right: Morley, Davia Kind, Dirt Cobain
How did you get involved in the show?
Dirt reached out to me. He was putting the show together, reaching out to artists he thought would be a good combination. It’s kind of like making a mixtape, when you’re putting together a group show. He reached out to me and I was honored to be amongst his picks. I love all the artists here. I’m always up for something new and different. This hotel is so cool, I’m happy to check it out and be part of the show.
Left to Right: Cyrus the Virus, Kafka, Berk Visual
Tell me about your own art.
I went to school as a screenwriter at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I lived there for 4 years. While I went there to be a screenwriter it was [in New York] that I met a lot of different artists and different mediums. People doing different things. I also started seeing street art.
That’s why I started creating street art. With screenwriting, it’s like a million layers of permission required… I wanted to create something that could live out its destiny on the street and get people to actually see it.
So when I started doing that, I wanted my messages to be coming from a person, not a logo or a brand. A human being that they could relate to. People can connect. So I started drawing myself in my artwork, but sticking with my strength which was writing. It started as a hobby and kind of like a release valve when I needed to express myself. It was so gratifying and empowering for me, that I started doing it full time.
Balloonski x Dirt Cobain
How do you feel the show represents LA?
What’s great about LA is it’s so diverse. All these different neighborhoods which have different personalities and different styles. Which is what I think is great about the show. All these different communities that can co-exist together. Which in many ways you get in NY, but with LA it’s so spread out that you can get a completely different style of artists if you just got to a different neighborhood.
It’s important to know the environment, the community you’re talking to, who you’re creating art. I wouldn’t put a message out about materialism in Compton. I wouldn’t put a message about perseverance in Beverly Hills. It’s finding the environment and making the right art for that community.
Tell me about your piece.
The piece is an ode to the 90s. The title is “#45 Doesn’t have the Explosion that #23 Has.” This is an era where Jordan but came back, but wasn’t quite himself. It celebrates the AM1, Space Jam, the flight brand… I love Michael Jordan. I grew up playing basketball, and kept with it all the way through the college years. It’s an ode to a man… simply.
My name is Sell Out. I like the idea of a man who sold out. But not in the way where I’m gonna prosecute you. Look, you just tried baseball, you just did a movie, here it is doing things outside of basketball. It’s kind of selling out, but at the same time I don’t care, I’m with it. I’m with Jordan all the way through.
All my work you see outside the street stuff, is gonna reminisce on the 80s and the 90s. The same way Jordan was just coming back around that time, I’ve been doing street art but I want to start doing more.
A lively crowd at ‘Dirt Cobain & Friends’
How did you get involved?
Dirt is one of my good friends in the scene. If you want to talk about somebody who’s an influencer, someone who’s taught me how to grow, how to pursue things, Dirt Cobain is the guy that I look to. He helps me push myself. Things like this, I give my hat off to Dirt.
I’m the low guy on the totem pole. I love that he’s giving me an opportunity to be in a show with LA’s major artists. I’ll take Dirt out to go wheat pasting and he’ll return the favor. When it comes down to it, he’s got my back and I got his back. 100%, ten-fold. It’s not about art. It’s not about getting up. It’s about our friendship.
Left to Right: GoodMasta, GoopMasta, Unfuk Yourself, Unfuk Yourself
How long have you lived in LA?
Funny that you say that. I’ve grown up in LA my entire life. I loved graffiti in the 90s, I thought my god how do I do that? Something that’s beautiful that just appears in the middle of the night. I started doing little sketches, little tags, here and there. I stopped and got into Basketball, played into college. Once that was all done. The thrill of doing something you’re not supposed to do was my natural high. At night, when Los Angeles the giant beast is asleep, you really see the city for what it’s worth. It made me understand where I grew up in totally different way.
As I made my way around the space, I was impressed with the quality of the work. All the artists brought their A-game. A steady crowd came in and made the rounds, checking out each piece in turn. Outside the gallery, a couple artists had set up shop with prints, shirts, jackets, and in Dirt’s case, candles, for fans to buy.
Beyond the artists up in the show, other top-tier LA street artists like Thrashbird and WRDSMTH showed up to pay tribute to the show. Even ResaPiece and MenaceTwo, New Yorkers currently on a cross-country trip painting in cities along the way, managed to stop by. I mingled with the crowd, listening to reactions as art-lovers debated which was their favorite piece. As the night came to the close, I checked in with Dirt for his thought on the evening.
Guests posing in front of one of Dirt Cobain’s pieces
What do you think about the show tonight?
I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to do a show here at the Mayfair Hotel. It’s a beautiful venue. I’m really impressed with the number of people that came out. There’s been a bunch of different crowds and groups of people who came out. I’m excited about. It’s been a great a night, and I’m impressed with all the art. Everyone really stepped it up.