Michael Cook (aka Cookie) has a dream of turning Agoura Hills into a central hub of artistic culture. The 28-year-old artist opened Street Art Loft, a studio and gallery at the Whizin Market Square, with partner Lori Monaco to showcase talent from all over Los Angeles.
“The concept is to bring the L.A. culture to the community and to be innovators in the industry for creating this new platform,” he said.
Three months ago, the studio (located at 28914 Roadside Dr.) launched “Street Art Live”– a gathering of artists who create works of art before viewers–held outdoors the third Friday of every month. “We’re actually creating a show about live art in which the community gets to watch artists work live, talk to them while they’re painting and get to know all different types and styles,” he said.
According to Cooke, the terms “street art” and “graffiti” have evolved over the years. “We used to equate those words with tagging,” he said. “But now these artists are getting paid boatloads of money to be graffiti artists by all these different brands.”
Cook said he is cultivating artists that will bring more of an urban edge to the art typically viewed in the Conejo Valley. “I didn’t want the community to be left behind,” he said. “I wanted to create the opportunity for [locals] to find out what street art could be and get to see these muralists and painters.”
The live events feature 10 to 20 artists who each bring something new and unique to the experience. Cook said that more and more local businesses are getting involved, too, offering specials and discounts. Ultimately, he hopes that the “Street Art Live” will run like a well-oiled machine, generating its own following and interest.
Cook, who was raised in Westlake and Thousand Oaks, studied painting at San Diego State and later apprenticed under artist Justin Bua, who is currently producing and hosting Street Art Throwdown for the Oxygen channel.
The next live event takes place June 19 from 7-11 p.m. For more information, visit www.thestreetartloft.com.
In the meantime, get a look at what “Street Art Live” is all about in the video below: