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Rap lyric project takes art from street to gallery

Sunday - 3/2/2014, 11:30am  ET

JOHN ROGERS
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It was the lyrics of hip-hop artist Big L that launched a contemporary art project that has graced more than a hundred intersections in New York and Los Angeles.

Artist Jay Shells was in his New York City studio last year, painting while listening to the rapper when some lyrics booming through the room grabbed his attention:

"On 139 and Lenox Ave, there's a big park. And if you're soft, don't go through it when it gets dark."

Shells immediately got the idea to put Big L's words on a street sign and hang it at that very intersection.

A year later, Shells has put up scores of carefully drawn, hand-screened signs featuring the words of other rappers. In April, he'll put 90 of the signs at an LA gallery.


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