Sometime during the spring of 2011, I met Stuart Noble. I know it was before the opening of MOCA’s “Art in the Streets” — a special time since I got to secretly go behind the scenes at the museum and photograph artists from across the country and around the world as they installed their works at the Geffen Contemporary. It was also about the time I got involved in helping to promote another street art exhibition in the Arts District that would be installed at then-soon-to-open (Angel City Brewery now under new ownership).
Stuart became my friend and my “insider street art” educator here in the Arts District. I recall those times when he and I would grab a beer after he’d been installing day and night, and just talk about life, our families, our dreams, and sometimes, just nothing but shooting the shit. He always had a wry sense of humor and was someone who I could count on to be direct, honest and loyal. Our lives were busy in their own ways and mostly went off into different directions, so we didn’t hang out as much as I would have liked, though I knew if I ran into him in the Arts District, he’d be up for catching up and chatting for a while.
Mostly, I think of Stuart for his quiet generosity and his caring about other people. Two examples come to mind. The first was when I shared with him that I was working with a local Boys & Girls Club, and had met two teenage boys, one who lived with his entire family in a car and the other whose parents had just gone to prison and he was left in foster care. “Let’s load those lads up, miss,” said Stuart, as he piled me with stickers, posters, and t-shirts by top street artists like Shepard Fairey and Cryptik. He kept texting me after doing that, asking when we could take them to those two “lads” and if we couldn’t go together, inquiring if I would photograph them with the “goods.”
The second was during the craze of producing last year’s BloomfestLA. He and I discussed doing a guerrilla street art campaign featuring the face of community advocate Joel Bloom, the festival’s namesake, as created by local artist Tod Lychkoff. He texted me multiple times daily before last July, but I was too busy with what seemed to be more pressing event issues at the time. “Next year, Stuart. Next year, when we have more time,” I replied, not knowing there would not be a next year for him and me to do this together.
Since his tragic death on May 17, 2013, I am most sad when I think of the latter (going on a nighttime pasting mission with him would have been memorable), but most happy when I think of the former (helping those boys) because … “Hey, Stuart. Those lads got the goods.”
Bless you, Stuart … your life mattered, and it meant so much to so many people. I join many others who perhaps knew you much better than I did, but what we did share as friends meant a lot to me.
Love, your friend, Melissa.
P.S. I won’t forget you and neither will a lot of us around here.2