Monday, July 13, 2009

Update: Updated: "Obama Hope" artist Separd Fairey pleads Guilty

Shepard Fairey, Obama's

The street artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, has cut a deal with Boston prosecutors. In February Boston police arrested Fairey as he was on his way to DJ at a party to mark the opening of his big show at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, which runs through Aug. 16. He was later hit with multiple charges of vandalism, though many of them were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence. There didn't seem to be much to prove that it was Fairey who had pasted up the Fairey stickers that constituted the offending acts in those charges, since those stickers are available to anybody over the Internet.

But Fairey has now pleaded guilty to three of the charges, been sentenced to probation and agreed to pay $2000 to a graffiti removal group. In exchange prosecutors have agreed to drop 11 remaining charges.

Fairey will be headed back to the Boston ICA on July 31 to DJ at a replay of that party he never got to attend, but tickets are already sold out.

"Obama Hope" artist Separd Fairey Arrested"

Obama 'Hope' poster artist arrested in Boston

Shepard Fairey, the controversial street artist riding a roller coaster of publicity with his red, white, and blue posters of President Barack Obama, was arrested last night on his way to DJ an event kicking off his exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Fairey, a 38-year-old known for his countercultural style, was arrested on two outstanding warrants and was being held at a police station, according to a police official with knowledge of the arrest who requested anonymity.

Police could not describe the nature of the outstanding warrants last night, but said they were based in Massachusetts.

Fairey has been arrested at least 14 times, he has told the Globe.

The artist was arrested at about 9:15 p.m. as he was about to enter a sold-out dance event at the Institute of Contemporary Art on Northern Avenue, known as "Experiment Night." The event is geared toward a younger-age crowd, with techno-style music, and more than 750 people were waiting for him, some of whom had bought tickets for the event on Craigslist for as much as $500.

Fairey was supposed to appear as a guest DJ for the kickoff of his exhibit, Supply and Demand, which will run through Aug. 16. He was scheduled to go on stage at about 10:30 p.m., and an hour later organizers reported to the crowd that he was arrested.

"We're very disappointed," said Paul Bessire, deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

"Shepard Fairey is a wonderful artist who created some positive work and we were very pleased to present his work here and around the city. We feel he is an influential artist."

Fairey, a street artist, graphic designer, and political activist, is best known for his "Obey Giant" campaign of stickers, stencils, and posters in the early 1990s.

Most recently, he has achieved fame with the red, white, and blue posters of Obama, emblazoned with the words "Hope," "Progress," and "Change."

The president used the posters during his campaign, and one of the displays in Fairey's exhibit includes a typed letter from Obama that read: "I am privileged to be a part of your art work and proud to have your support."

Fairey was recently seen with Mayor Thomas M. Menino in an event to promote his show, and banners raised at City Hall also announce the exhibit.

At the same time, however, anti-graffiti activists complained that a street artist was going to be the subject of a museum show.

But Bessire said, "We feel he is an influential artist. We were just very pleased and felt fortunate to show his work."

The arrest of Fairey -- who cites linguistic theorist Noam Chomsky with a poster that reads, "I lived with the system and took no offence/until Chomsky lent me the necessary sense" -- helped maintain his counterculture reputation.

"I wouldn't say it's cool he was arrested, but I think it shows he has integrity," said Bill Galligan, a graphic designer. Some in the crowd last night speculated the incident may have been a publicity stunt.

Ginny Delany, a 27-year-old graduate student from Cambridge, said, "It makes him even more of a hero to me.

"The fact that he is arrested for his art shows that it is meaningful tohim and he cares about what he is doing."

David Rosen, a 19-year-old from Allston, said last night that he was disappointed with the arrest, but "I understand that his art requires him to take risks."

Christopher Muther of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


Shepard Fairey once outlaw Artist now in National Gallery

Iconic Obama Artwork Finds a Home

January 18, 2009 2:12 PM

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

The iconic image of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign is now on display permanently at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The original painting, by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, was unveiled yesterday –- and now hangs in the “New Arrivals” section for the many visitors in the district during inauguration to see.


Fairey’s red, white and blue portrait collage with Obama’s face over the word “hope” was reprinted in mass quantities, donning campaign shirts, posters, hats, buttons and stickers throughout the campaign.

The painting was a gift to the Portrait Gallery of Tony and Heather Podesta.

This weekend’s inauguration festivities are bringing Obama fans to the museum in droves. Museum staffers say crowd control has been an issue in the less-than-24 hours the artwork has been on display. They have set up a black rope in the middle of the aisle, creating two lines to view the picture. Police officers hustle viewers to move quickly after snapping a quick picture.


After being hung in a temporary gallery within the museum the portrait will find a home in the permanent display.

-- Sunlen Miller

Connecting the Pieces of Grant Wood's Corn Mural

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - An arts group is hoping to raise $120,000 to buy the remnants of a mural painted on a hotel wall by Grant Wood in 1927 that was cut to pieces nearly four decades ago and to put it back together.

Recent discovery of part of the border of that mural was found above a dropped ceiling. The border contained the painted refrain, “where the tall corn grows,”.

The group hope to make the mural the centerpiece of an art center planned for the Bluffs. Ideally, they'd like that art center to be in the mural's original home at Bluffs Towers.

The odd history:

In 1926, hotel magnate Eugene Eppley (April 8, 1884-October 14, 1958), also known as Gene, was a hotel magnate Eppley is credited with single-handedly building one of the most successful hotel empires, by the 1950s the largest privately owned hotel chain in the United States. At its peak in the 1950s, the Eppley Hotel Company owned 22 hotels in six states. Eppley sold the company to Sheraton Hotels in 1956 for $30 million. (1)) hired Wood to paint four murals for the dining rooms of his hotels in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

Three of the murals were `corn murals' (one in each hotel). They were painted to fill the room. The corn murals were supposed to make viewers feel as if they were sitting in an Iowa field with tall stalks of corn, rolling hills and barns dotting the horizon.The mural is a typical example of the kinds of landscape visible in the surrounding countryside.

"Wood was painting what he longed for, an agrarian paradise where the land took care of her own before the machine came to torment her; further, this was an America without urban centers and thus free of the social complexities of mass unemployment, crowded conditions, factories and industry." (2)

Wood's murals from the hotels in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids ended up in the Sioux City Art Center and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. But in 1970, owners of the Bluff Towers in Council Bluffs invited the public to cut away parts of their Wood mural and take them home.

Wood's technique in painting this mural was subtractive -- his assistant Carl Eybers would put a thin layer of paint on a prepared section of the canvas, and Wood would then wipe away from that paint to create the corn stalks, buildings and other imagery visible. The murals are faded today both because of this subtractive technique. The Canvas was then glued to the wall. (3)

The corn room mural mural for the Martin Hotel in Sioux City has been
kept whole, and a conservation process saved the mural, but damage has dimmed the imagery and shifted his colors towards golden-brown. That mural can be seen at the The Sioux City Art Center.

Grant Wood (1891-1942) born in Iowa has an international reputation. His best-known painting, American Gothic (1930) (at the Art Institute of Chicago), has become an iconic image of rural America. Wood spent the majority of his art career living and working in Cedar Rapids. He was the head of the Iowa section of the Public Works of Art Project which ran from 1933-1934.

Wood was the most prominent artist in the Regionalist art movement in the 1930s, and he remained a proponent of its approach to art for the remainder of his career. This movement was a democratic art accessible to everyone and reflecting local, rather than imported from Europe or elsewhere, interests and traditions. The ideas Regionalism describe are connected to the immediate, local audience for the art.(4)

Wood's canvases also came with the bonus of a recognizable subject, one that was bucolic and idyllic, that provided instant uplift and gratification. (5)

Grant Wood's Corn Room Mural is historically important because it shows that Wood was developing the ideas and approaches that would become Regionalism several years before he produced his first clearly-Regionalist works and achieved critical success with his invention: Woman with Plants (1929)

and American Gothic (1930). Both these paintings have their origins in the specific landscape of the Midwest, but fuse their local subjects with formal concerns drawn from seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Wood's concerns with landscape, visible in the Corn Room Mural, remain a constant reference point for his Regionalist works: it appears as the background to Woman with Plants and in the famous house seen behind the couple in American Gothic. The central imagery in one of the main panels -- conical piles of harvested corn -- reappears in his later work, notably as the central focus of his lithograph, January (1937), in the painting Iowa Cornfield (1941), and in his last known work, an oil sketch from 1941 called Iowa Landscape.(6)
Grant Woods Iowa Cornfield 1941(Iowa Cornfield 1941)

Can you help?
The Bluffs Arts Council is encouraging anyone with pieces of Grant Wood's corn mural to contact the organization at (712) 328-4992.

The council also is accepting donations for the project. Send them to Bluffs Arts Council, City Hall, 209 Pearl, Council Bluffs, IA 51503.

Paul Grant (follower of Basho)


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