[Photo Credit: Tim Hans]
MEAR ONE (aka Kalen Ockerman) has been at the forefront of LA's graffiti and mural culture for nearly three decades. He is famous for having pioneered the Melrose graffiti art movement in the late 1980s and is considered by many to be LA's most prolific public muralist. Early on in his career, MEAR gained recognition for building the bridge between graffiti and fine art. He was the first graffiti artist to exhibit at the infamous 01 Gallery on Melrose, as well as at 33 1/3 Gallery in Silverlake, where Banksy would later debut his first North American show. MEAR ONE's work was part of the landmark Art in the Streets 2011 exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. He is perhaps best known for constructing powerful narratives juxtaposing philosophy, ancient mythology, and modern politics to inspire an evolved consciousness. This interpretation of reality is achieved through balanced dialogue between realism and the supernatural. MEAR ONE helps us envision the sublime spirit of our time - not by escaping reality, but by confronting it head on.
• Hometown: Born in Santa Cruz California, raised in Los Angeles.
• How old were you when you got involved in street art?: In sixth grade I was driving around the city with my mother and saw graffiti on the neighborhood walls. Sometime during 1986 (in junior high), I decided to begin writing my name on the walls. Soon I became a full-fledged "vandal," which led me to finding my own distinctive style on the streets.
• Who inspires you (artist or non-artist): I am inspired mostly by painters. Those who take on behemoth projects like Robert Williams and Alex Grey. Some of my favorite artists also include Maxfield Parrish, Alphonse Mucha, Hieronymous Bosch, M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell, and Leonardo da Vinci. I find plenty of inspiration in a powerful sunset or a mesmerizing trip into mother nature.
• What advice would you give to up and coming artists: My advice to any young artist would be to find something that matters to you on a personal level and explore that, find a way to develop your thoughts and words into a visual language that others can read. No matter if it is abstract or figurative there is an underlying story to every piece of art. Communication is key. What one has to say should be just as important as the process that he or she embarks upon. I believe great art communicates thoughts and ideas that our everyday verbal language is sometimes unable to achieve. I see maths as the purest form of language, it is universal; art represents the culmination of this universality through its regard for symbolism, representational form and meaning, use of color, abstract color fields - these help define the frequency that we interpret as reality. Being an artist helps me to find a deeper meaning in my life and gives me purpose. I hope you all find something similar.
Tune in to Street Art Throwdown, premiering Tuesday Feb. 3 at 9/8c!