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Billy Knows. Exactly what does Billy Know? Well, the street art scene of Los Angeles, if nothing else, provides a quick education.
During the early 2000s, with the Bush elections, pre and then post 9/11, war, the political tensions and patriotic emotions were high in America. This is what freedom of speech and being an artist was all about for Billy Knows. His street art was a voice that cut through the propaganda like a knife and that voice
was beginning to be echoed. Before he knew it, pieces like his “Greed”, which attacked corporate greed with a rendering of a viscous tooth Mickey Mouse, were being reproduced all over the US and then Europe. His politically charged statements of art toward George Bush and the Iraq War were getting more and more attention. Attention Billy Knows was not prepared for.
Billy Knows, came to know one more thing. . . challenging ideologies comes at a price. On the streets, Billy Knows art began being violently marked over and removed, even when other street art along side his was remaining untouched. Then in 2004, he discovered that he not only had been declared a “target” by a group of Muslim Extremists, he also started getting death threats. When he finally discovered that the source of the death threats were from a stalker, enough was enough. Billy Knows decided to move on from the streets of Los Angeles and moved to Hawaii as a safe haven, where he could focus on his art.
This is a rare glimpse at an artist’s work whose impact stretches the globe and an opportunity to grasp an art form whose development was on the streets of L.A. in one of the most valid art movements in American grass roots art history. His art is respected, not only with his fellow street artists (see what Tiki Jay One has to say), but is also admired and owned by art critics/curators/art writers like Shana Nys Dambrot (LA Weekly, Modern Painters, Art Review, Juxtapoz, Flavorwire, Whitehot Magazine, BlueCanvas, Art Week, Art Asia Pacific, etc.) who not only agrees with the admirers but also owns multiple Billy Knows pieces. Above all, Billy Knows, truly is a gentle soul with beauty and kindness. His art proves to be the perfect metaphor for the dichotomy within us all, within those around us, and within the world we live in.