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>> Blek Le Rat : 30 Year Retrospective Book

Strike While The Iron is Hot.

     It all began with an email in March of 2007. My initial instinct was to
take a shot in the dark and introduce myself to a man who indirectly made a
huge impact on my life and the trajectory it had taken up until then. I took
a moment to write something personal that elaborated on what moved me to
reach out. I had no idea of the way that our relationship would unfold and
the effect that he would have on me personally and professionally. I
explained in the email that I had an existing background in producing
events, curating shows and managing artists in Philadelphia and that I had
just moved to Los Angeles to further my horizons. I genuinely wanted to know
more about him and felt that this was his time to be seriously recognized. I
offered to collaborate on an effort to find him a gallery in LA to work with
him on an exhibition, I was confident in finding him one. I left my phone
number at the bottom.
The next day I receive a phone call from Xavier. Needless to say I was
ecstatic to be speaking with him, we had a great conversation, he said that
something about my email spoke to him and it would only be a number of weeks
before his wife Sybille and son Alex and him will be traveling through on a
road trip, Alex's first time in the states. Having just moved into a big
place at the top of a hill in Silverlake, a stretch from some of the
apartments I was accustom to, I insisted they stay with us.
      We started corresponding on strategy for a way for him to make a grand
entrance into the states with a high profile exhibit in LA. My longtime
friend and roommate at the time Zach Gibson, was designing for Shepard
Fairey's Studio Number One and he let us know that they were in the process
of renovating a building in Echo Park with a good portion of it set to be a
beautiful new gallery space for their Subliminal Projects. He put us in
touch with Shepard, Amanda, and Dan Flores and they were into the idea. Blek
felt strongly about OBEY and it being a perfect fit for him to be in the
company of a fellow artist that he admired. By the time the family arrived
on my hill we had everyone on board to have the first exhibit in the new
location be Blek Le Rat's US solo debut.  This time that I spent with
Xavier, Sybille and Alex was deeply appreciated, we ate and drank wine on
our balcony and discussed everything under the sun.  The first meeting with
everyone at the table of the old SNO conference room in the Wiltern was
unforgettable. Everyone was on the same page and even Alex, a young teenager
at the time and still fine tuning his English, contributed his opinions and
the details were set. The exhibit would consist of a large number of
paintings ranging in sizes and interactive white picket fence installation
to be accompanied by Sybille's photos of Blek's work in the streets around
the world. Another element that developed was the series of collaborative
silkscreen editions where Shepard would prepare a selection of Sybille's
street photos for print and they would all sign the edition. Later that
night we hit the streets so Xavier could do what he does best.
     From there everyone got to work, and in the process I landed a full
time opportunity with the OBEY team and Subliminal Projects. Showtime rolls
around and Xavier comes for another stay at the house, we converted the
garage into a studio for him to construct and paint the installation and
prepare for his street pieces. The idea was to bring the same feeling of
participating in the dialogue that you get from painting the streets into
the gallery. Every part of the process had a special feeling that something
important was taking place, a highlight for me was painting handstyles on
the fence alongside Xavier's stencils in the garage, I snuck in a tribute to
a fallen crew member, IDEO, a nod to his memory and my upbringing and
experience wall writing in Philly that lead me to explore the art form
passionately and extensively over the previous decade, which brought me to
contact Blek.
     Showtime rolled around and all of the elements were worked into place
furiously.  The gallery space looked flawless, unveiling a new space on the
east side of town rivaling the best in the city. An LA Times article and
Jonesy's Jukebox interview amongst other buzz let the people know what was
coming. The info was being blasted out to the press and collectors The
market was still a blaze from two of the biggest street art shows in the
world to date having taken place around the same time the previous year, and
the climate had gotten a little warmer with recent auction results fetching
top dollar. And not to be left out, the streets were touched also with some
stenciling and pasting including some spots with Shep. I can comfortably say

that the rest is history..

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