Oxygen’s ‘Street Art Throwdown’ Makes a Game of Graffiti

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Graffiti mecca 5 Pointz is undergoing demolition to make way for condos. But you can get your public art fix with “Street Art Throwdown” in February. (Photo courtesy Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Oxygen, the channel behind modern television masterworks “Bad Girls Club,” “My Shopping Addiction,” and “Tori and Dean: sTORIbook Weddings,” will debut a new series in February pitting street artists against each other in a battle for $100,000 and dubious reality TV glory.

Street Art Throwdown” will follow ten contestants as they dart around Los Angeles creating “vibrant art in never-before-seen ways, with challenges ranging from murals to installations and 3D paintings to guerrilla art,” according to an Oxygen news release.

The show has already wrapped and production staff got the necessary permits for shooting at each location, a spokesperson from Oxygen Media told The Observer. They revealed some of the shoot locations as Fort MacArthur Tunnels in San Pedro, Melrose Avenue in Koreatown, Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Venice Beach, and North Hollywood.

Which begs the question: is it really “guerrilla art” if production assistants scouted the locations beforehand and alerted the City of Los Angeles to the plan?

Participants will be required to climb walls, jump fences, and “create a large-form piece or mural in hard to reach locations and under harsh conditions.” This makes “Street Art Throwdown” sound more like a Tough Mudder race than a celebration of illicit painting. The word “graffiti” is also conspicuously absent from Oxygen’s promotional materials, a sign of street art’s continued shift from urban scourge to the stuff of quaint publicity stunts.

The show will be hosted by street and commercial artist Justine BUA. Brooklyn-based artist Jenna Morello, whose work appears at 42 the Restaurant in White Plains and at Townhouse Art Gallery in Park Slope, will be the New York area’s lone contestant on the show. Now that Five Pointz is officially no more, it looks like Morello’s ability to perform feats of strength is the city’s big chance to get its street art back on the map.

Oxygen’s ‘Street Art Throwdown’ Makes a Game of Graffiti