‘Street Art Throwdown’ Premieres Tomorrow Night on Oxygen
In what promises to be a giant step forward for the street art community, Oxygen Media is set to premiere the adrenaline-charged reality competition series Street Art Throwdown tomorrow night, Feb. 3, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The groundbreaking series pits 10 up-and-coming street artists from all over the country against each other in a series of demanding challenges for a $100,000 prize.
Shot on location in Los Angeles last summer, Street Art Throwdown brings together these young hopefuls as they strive to bring their visions to life and showcase their work to the world. From scaling walls, to climbing fences and navigating underground tunnels, the artists must have the talent, style and hustle in the eyes of the judges to win the prize.
Host, co-judge and executive producer Justin Bua told 12ozProphet.com that it took almost a decade to get this show on the air.
“If this show inspires anyone to pick up a brush or a spray can and makes this world a more beautiful place, what greater impact is there than that?”
“When we first came up with the concept 10 years ago and were pitching it around, it was way ahead of its time. So now it’s timely and Oxygen saw that,” Bua said. “I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to get this out there into the universe. There’s no way this isn’t going to educate the world on how beautiful, not only street art is, but how art as a whole can be. This is way bigger than myself, Oxygen or any of the contestants can imagine. This is tapping into the vein of history. If this show inspires anyone to pick up a brush or a spray can and makes this world a more beautiful place, what greater impact is there than that?”
In each of the eight one-hour episodes, the contestants are challenged in various street art disciplines from murals to installations to 3-D paintings. Like most competition shows, the winner of the initial challenge comes into the elimination challenge with a distinct advantage. But as Bua explained, there’s a difference between the challenge aspects of Street Art Throwdown, and say a show like Ink Master, which follows a similar format.
“Much like bombing a yard or hitting a tunnel. There’s no half-stepping.”
“We wanted to make it as real to the culture as possible,” Bua explained. “So in doing that you have two separate challenges during the course of the hour. The first challenge is smaller and it’s called The Hustle, which tests your speed, stamina, strength doing things fast and furious, getting in and out. Much like bombing a yard or hitting a tunnel. There’s no half-stepping. The second challenge, The Throwdown, is a bit more involved—bigger than a piece—almost like doing a masterpiece to fit the parameters of the challenge. You have anywhere from two and a half hours to five hours so there’s time for more detail, time to get a little more lost in your work.”
In addition to Bua and noted gallerist Lauren Wagner of Pop International Galleries, a stellar cast of A-listers in the street art world join the show as guest judges, giving the show instant cache and credibility. Featured judges include graffiti icons MEAR ONE, SLICK, LADY PINK, CLAW MONEY, and legendary pop artist Ron English, along with Jules Muck, Jim Bowes, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.
“You want the Most Improved Player over the course of the show, you’re not looking for Michael Jordan coming in.”
Bua said that a nationwide casting call went out fueled by social media and that he was looking to find “diamonds in the rough. You don’t want to find the best people. You want to give up-and-comers the opportunity to grow and shine. You want the Most Improved Player over the course of the show, you’re not looking for Michael Jordan coming in.”
Street art fans might already be familiar with some of the contestants who include Annie “Love Annie” Preece, Cameron “Camer1” Moberg, Ivan “Gath” Preciado, Jenna Morello, Kristin “SpecialK” Adamczyk, Ladie One, LEBA, Solomon “Grimnasty” Perry, Vanessa “Agana” Espinoza and Marley “Marley Billie D” Miner-Davis.
Bua was honest about the casting search, noting some initial resistance, but the promise of national exposure and a $100,000 prize proved to be irresistible incentives.
“At first people were reluctant and a little bit scared because no one has ever done anything like this,” Bua said of the casting process. “’I don’t know if we’re going to be represented fairly. This is a blemish on street art.’ So, at first, some shied away. But now that the show’s coming, I get emails all the time asking how they can be on season two.”
As for the expected response to the show from the street art community, which normally skews skeptical of anything it feels is overtly commercial or exploitative of this “underground” art form, Bua hopes that the way in which street art is celebrated and given a platform as a legitimate art form in the show will change their minds. But even he admits certain concessions had to be made for Oxygen’s audience, which targets young, multicultural women.
“The beauty of art and creativity is everywhere in Street Art Throwdown. That’s what people will see.”
“In some ways you have to spoon feed people the culture,” Bua explained. “Some people still believe that street art is vandalism, they don’t understand that it’s an art form. So slowly but surely you have to show the truth. This is not crime, this is not vandalism, it’s an omnipresent beautiful culture. The beauty of art and creativity is everywhere in Street Art Throwdown. That’s what people will see.”
Watch the trailer for Street Art Throwdown here. Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about the pioneering show.
Follow the show on Facebook and via the Twitter hashtag #StreetArtThrowdown.