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No sleep til MOCA: Beastie Boy Mike D. curates art festival

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at 03:13PM
Hayley Fox

Beastie Boy Mike D. is curating an art festival at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary in Downtown.

Mike D. of hip-hop trio the Beastie Boys is curating a 17-day audio/visual art festival at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary.

"I'm thoroughly unqualified," said a deadpan Diamond.

The ever-humble rapper/singer/drummer said he's never done anything like this before and feels "like a kid in a candy store."

"It was all fun and great until last week and then reality struck," Diamond joked. "Reality is so much harder than fantasy."

The Beastie boy is now busy coordinating artists, musicians, coffee bars and pop-up restaurants for the quickly approaching April 20th start date.

"Transmission LA: AV Club" is sponsored by Mercedes Benz as an offshoot of their online series "Avant Garde Diaries" -- a digital magazine that features artists of all kinds who are "pioneers" in their specific disciplines, said Adam Paige, manager of brand PR in the U.S. for Mercedes.

For the in-person MOCA event, Diamond hopes people look at it not just as a show, but as a "place for confluence." He's encouraging this by having the Geffen stay open until 10 p.m. four days a week, as well as offering free admission.

"It'll bum me out if people just go once and they check it off their list," he said.

One of the artists featured at the event is Sage Vaughn, a painter based out of Pasadena who often portrays vividly colored wildlife such as butterflies and birds dripping with color.

When asked why he is participating in the show he said, "I'm a part of it because I'm lucky. Mike D. likes my work."

Although the two have never worked together, they have surfed together for the past few years -- often at Point Dume.

"I only meet people in the context of surfing. Otherwise I don't actually interact with people unless I meet them aquatically first," Diamond joked.

In reality, the artists contributing to "Transmission" are a mix of people Diamond already knew and many others he admired from afar. He said he's always been really interested in visual design, art, coffee, food and of course, music – and "Transmission" is a perfect chance to bring them all together.

"Hopefully I'll get to DJ," Diamond said. "Hopefully I'll get a couple of slots. Its tough – I got a lot of competition right now."

Diamond said the Geffen is "a great space" with an "inspiring" interior and an outdoor plaza ripe for performances. He was introduced to the project in December but didn't officially get started until the end of January.

Mercedes brought the "Transmission" project to life last year in Berlin with their first art festival, curated by fashion designer Raf Simons.

In the U.S. they are "handing the reins" to Mike D, who led the pack on the short list of people Mercedes considered for the job, said Paige from Mercedes Benz.

All the artists who were considered "continue to be really relevant and reinvent themselves," said Paige – and there's no doubt that's true with Mike D. He has decades of trend-setting and music-making under his belt, not to mention an upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame.

The MOCA Geffen Contemporary is located at 152 N. Central Ave. "Transmission LA: AV Club" beings April 20 and goes until May 6.

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