LEBA: Street Artist or Street Activist?

LEBA has been hitting the streets of L.A. for more than a decade and his artwork continues to incite conversation. “Wake Up” is his newest piece, and it’s super fresh.

The wheatpaste image of an old timey fellow hollering, “Wake up” are hard to ignore. If you feel like he’s yelling at everyone around you (including yourself), it’s because he probably is. The lettering, upside down and in ALL CAPS, just begs to be noticed. Perhaps LEBA, who’s been hitting the streets of Los Angeles for over a decade, feels as though we’re fast asleep on many social issues and yelling is necessary. The question is: Are we listening?

WHAT: The black and white illustration feels anachronistic yet not out of place in downtown. That paradox is important. How long have we been sleeping? How long does this man need to yell before we take action? LEBA wants us to do something, so don’t let it be for naught.

WHO: LEBA is a social commentator who uses his street art to connect with his audience. In the past, he has obscured census billboards to ask deep questions. I first noticed the “Wake Up” pieces after the verdict was handed down in the Trayvon Martin case, and I was sure that LEBA was alluding to it. As I see more “Wake Up” wheatpastes pop up around the city, I think maybe LEBA is alluding to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, LEBA is not commenting on one specific action but his work continues to incite conversation.

WHERE: Around the corner from The Pie Hole in the Art District in downtown Los Angeles. Parking is tough but then… pie!

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