A new Echo Park paint supply store and graffiti art hub opened last week in Echo Park, stoking excitement and concern in the community. Montana Cans, a designer spray-paint brand from Germany markets itself as “from the artist scene to the artist scene,” opened an East-side store minutes from Dodger Stadium.
A party last Friday announced the stores arrival to the neighborhood with live spray-painting by notable graffiti artists like Risk, Revok, and the Ma’Claim team.
The Montana Store stocks boutique spray paints from a wide and flashy color palette, including colors like “lollipop,” “clockwork orange,” “slimer,” and “revolt green.”
Some Echo Park residents expressed concern with the availability of spray paint in a neighborhood plagued with gangs and tagging. On local website The Eastsider LA, readers voiced their concerns that the store's stock would contribute to the level of illegal graffiti.
For his part, Risk said the store is not for gang members. The average can of Montana spray paint costs $6 to $7, a cost he feels will be a deterrent for most of those who use the cans to mark territory, rather than create art. Most of those will probably go for cheaper, mass-produced cans, Risk said.
Risk said that now that graffiti art has gone mainstream and the public has begun to accept it as an art form, Montana Cans exists to provide quality paint to these artists.
What makes a spray can designed for artists different from the hardware store variety? Owners of the new store describe Montana’s spray cans as easier to handle and with less drip then other brands. They also sell a variety of spray tips, which allow artists to paint with great detail or broad strokes, depending on their needs.
Kelly Raval, a.k.a. Risk, one of the store's owners and a legend in the Los Angeles graffiti world, made his name by spray-painting freeway overpasses in his younger days. He even hitchhiked to New York to paint subway cars, catching what he described as the “end of an era” in graffiti.
Now, he has three kids at home and is teaching them how to paint. “The four-year-old constantly tells me that she’s way better than me and shows me how I should do things and what colors I should use," Risk said.
“To me, just getting the can in my hand is the beginning of the process of creating art,” he said.
Montana Cans has plans to host art openings and other events to promote the growing art form, as well as to win over some of his concerned neighbors.
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