If you like your art shows served with a generous splash of marketing and a long, tall chaser of PSA, then you would have loved last night's "Taking Back the Streets" opening at ArtBeam (nee EyeBeam) in Chelsea. Sponsored by the up-and-coming alt-beverage purveyor Wat-aah!, the exhibition is part of the company's effort to align their brand with cool things like graffiti, and thus promote both healthier, less caloric refreshment choices among kids and teenagers as well, you know... themselves. Another part of that effort: the recent signing of Ariana Grande to a long-term endorsement deal.
Thus, all of the commissioned pieces here—and there are dozens of them, from more than 60 different artists—incorporated the company's "Drink Up" tag line and/or featured some sort of reworking of the cutesy cry-baby logo. However, once you got past the fact that the whole thing was, essentially, one giant ad, the exhibition actually is really fun and clever, and the party was rowdy and crawling with, as one partygoer put it, "like, every dope street art dude in NYC." Spotted in the crowd: Adam Dare, Lexi Bella, Sonni, Ethan Armen (the actual Ethan, who's six years old!), Rubin, Fumero, Wizard Skull, Joe Iurato, Danielle Mastrioni, among many others.
And even though First Lady Michele Obama didn't make an appearance as she had last February when the first "Taking Back the Streets" was in town at the New Museum, Rosie Perez showed up last night and hung out for about an hour letting everyone take pictures.
The Taking Back the Streets exhibition will be open today from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; ArtBeam is located at 540 West 21st Street.