Shots today from last month’s Shepard Fairey “Future Mosaic” at Dubai’s Opera Gallery. With works on canvas, paper, wood, and metal, as well as examples of iconic images and repeated motifs from the breadth of his art and design history, Fairey was very much present for his first solo show here. In a grueling schedule of just 9 days he also managed to install two huge murals facing a skate park in a commercial district of the city, the d3 (Dubai Design District).
Rise Above Peace Dove and Rise Above Peace Fingers incorporate what appears as a richer vibrant palette and pulsing graphic interplay than previously, perhaps due to more dense hues and the fact that his core crew of Dan Flores, Luka Densmore, and Rob Zagula were on hand along with Jon and Marwan offering additional help. Staying clear of strident language or slogans, the new works are largely representational and universal in themes of “justice, peace and human rights.”
Fairey withstood criticism on social media for even working in the region, it would appear, let alone lending his name to an effort that they saw as hypocritical in light of his previous vocal stances on human rights, for example.
He took to Instagram to address his critics, “I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but it’s not a perfect place, but perfection does not exist and certainly not in the US. However, without this experience, I would not have been able to engage in robust discussions with the great people I met in Dubai. There’s nothing more relevant to my inside-outside strategy than traveling there and doing public art conveying harmony and positivity.”
Elsewhere in another post, he wrote, “It is very important for me to do public art when I travel because it engages people outside of the art world, but it is not easy to secure public walls in Dubai.”
The opportunity to show and share and sell your art is something we want for any artist. In the case of Fairey, judgment metrics would need to include his two decades of generous acts promoting and supporting all manner of environmental, social justice, and civic participation efforts. We’ll confidently observe that year after year, his impact can far outstrip the average street artist and certainly most art collectors by miles. We dare say he’s unmatched. Let that be your goal.
“The show was massive, with 159 works that utilized the gallery space with a rhythm of scale and concentration,” he says. “My art practice focuses on the work’s cumulative effect, both visually and conceptually, so I was pleased with the final result.”
What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
“I actually side with people who oppose injustice,” says Shepard Fairey, “especially when it comes to human rights.”
He’s speaking about the recently vandalized mural of the famous Marianne produced by the artist named Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) in the 13th arrondissement of Paris a few years ago. In a high-profile act of defilement, the anonymous artists/activists who sprayed through the text and added tears to the figure at the end of 2020, captured in a video by Milan Poyet.
Determined to reassert his narrative over his work, Fairey has restored the original beacon of confidence and optimism and added a teardrop to her visage – to acknowledge the actions of the collective as well as the fact that we are failing as a people in such obvious ways to honor these values of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
In the end, these are only words, and they are meaningless unless you back them up with deeds. Fairey tells us that he wants actions to speak louder than that, so in coordination with Galerie Itinerrance, he is releasing a new print of this image Wednesday, February 17, 2021, and the profits will be entirely donated to the non-profit association “Les restos du coeur,” which fights daily for people in difficulty.
Find out more about the edition of 650 of the Marianne (#MariannePleure) by checking out the the Itinerrance.fr website and of course obeygiant.com
Today we celebrate American worker’s contributions to our society. The workforce is the engine moving our country to the realization of our dreams and goals. The men and women who get up every day to seek a decent living in this country are increasingly under assault by the corporation’s manipulation of people and profits. Our labor unions have been decimated and the workers’ rights chipped away little by little, or a lot by a lot. All of it began with Reagan and it hasn’t stopped since. Congress is beholden to special interests with most of our elected officials’ ears more attuned to the lobbyists’ demands roaming the halls of Congress than to the ordinary people’s plight for help for better wages, better work conditions, better parental leave, better health insurance.
The Pandemic has only exacerbated the already perilous conditions among the middle class and poor Americans. Most working-class individuals were already living paycheck to paycheck with little if any savings to confront personal, family crises. The poor have always counted on the safety net that the government has put in place to help alleviate their financial and health burdens but those services have been either privatized for-profit or totally eradicated. When Covid-19 took hold of the whole world and Trump made the situation in the USA worse, the majority of Americans have found themselves steps removed from the economic precipice, or pushed into it. Strangely, Democrats also are not coming to the rescue.
There are many lessons to be learned from this Pandemic, one of them will undoubtedly be the abysmal difference between those with money and those without it to confront this crisis. The rich are getting incredibly richer and the poor are getting poorer. Lockdown has been difficult for all of us but certainly easier for those without financial difficulties.
Almost 30 million Americans have lost their jobs, and their hopes of getting them back are slimmer by the week. If there is to be an economic recovery in this country the divisions of who’ll benefit from said recovery will be sharply divided. While the stock market has hit record levels of wealth, ordinary Americans have seen greater inequality. So you might wonder, what are we celebrating today? Our workforce is in tatters and our service economy has been decimated.
Shepard Fairey made the works shown above in LA almost a decade ago, and his message resonates even stronger today.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Plain Brutality Again: Jacob Blake. 2. INDECLINE: Get Dead – Pepper Spray 3. Shepard Fairey: Arts Vote 2020
BSA Special Feature: Plain Brutality Again: Jacob Blake
The violence against black people continues. The latest shooting of a black American citizen by the police took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin where a police officer shot Jacob Blake on Sunday.
Mr. Blake, a father, a son, a brother, and uncle, was shot seven times by the police as he leaned into the driver’s seat of his car resulting in Mr. Blake being paralyzed and unable to walk and under intensive care at the hospital. Yet he is being handcuffed to his bed. Mr. Blake was not carrying a weapon.
Are we only to add his name to the endless list of black and brown people brutalized and killed? Here we post a recent short film that examines this moment in American history as well as through the lens of system racism.
Voices from the Black Lives Matters Protests ( A short film) Vanity Fair
INDECLINE: Get Dead – Pepper Spray
An amalgam of blinding rage and graffiti, anti-authoritarian self-destructive vandalism melded into a demand for the end of state-sponsored violence played out to a raspy-voiced tirade and gutter-crunch guitars and drums. Many of society’s contradictions are here on display for all to see.
Artists Shine Light on Trump, GOP Atrocities in Emotionally-Charged New Billboard, Street Art Campaign
The billboards are going up in Detroit, Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona – all so-called “battleground” states for this years presidential election. Using their talent as street artists to draw attention in public, this group of billboards is grabbing the attention of passersby with aesthetics as well as content.
In a campaign funded by Collective
Super PAC, the SuperPAC affiliate of The Collective PAC, a number of street
artists as well as artists from other genres and practices are lending their
individual skills to remind potential voters what has already been done – with a
warning that four more years would march us straight off a cliff, in their
Artists Shepard Fairey, Nekisha
Durrett, Nate Lewis, Rafael Lopez, Robert Russell, Rob Sheridan, and Swoon each
take on their variation of the messages on topics like police brutality,
racism, hate speech, immigration and the Coronavirus pandemic. Some are simply dedicated
to controversial statements made by Trump and others on his team.
“Our message is simple:
Remember what they did and vote them out,” says organizer Robin Bell, whose
known for his projections on the façade of the Trump Hotel.
For Shepard Fairey, it was
the irony that this spring and early summer Trump was trying to solve our
problems with police brutality with, uh, police brutality.
“My art piece is a reminder
that while the American public was protesting in the streets, in record
numbers, against racism and police brutality, Donald Trump was encouraging
police brutality against the protesters, reinforcing the very same problems
within law enforcement and the criminal justice systems the protesters were
demanding to be reformed,” says Fairey. “This image implies that the police are
supposed to be peacekeepers, not warriors, and that Donald Trump is on the
wrong side of social justice and the wrong side of history!”
The images are stark, sometimes
shocking, but then so are the times they are documenting – and street art is
often holding a mirror up to society. “Life imitates art, and the images we see
have a direct impact on our democracy,” says Quentin James, Founder and
President of The Collective.
As the economy continues to
deflate and the Greater Depression is waiting to be triggered by a crash, not
only will we see more street art, we’ll depend on it as tea leaves to read about
ourselves and hopefully remember what we all did (and didn’t), so we can learn
are grounded, parks are closed, and asthma is down. Wild animals are enjoying
their natural habitat without the hordes of humans traipsing about their
territory. Mountains, rivers, lakes, and our oceans are experiencing less
stress and our cities, in general, are calmer and cleaner. When people float
conspiracy theories about Covid-19, we always like the one about the Earth
creating it to get our attention and be better earth citizens.
years after the first Earth Day, we pause to recognize people like US Senator
Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from the state of Wisconsin who founded it. He
probably had no idea that corporations would take over the Senate and House and
White House and the media here in 2020.
the good work of those first environmentalists hasn’t been completely reversed,
however they have tried to smear the name of people who love the Earth, eroding
laws that protect it. “Teach-ins” from the Vietnam War era actually inspired Senator
Nelson to envision a “national-teach-in-movement” where neighbors taught each
other and empowered and encouraged one another to act positively and directly
to protect natural resources. For all those who have fought for our environment
and our fellow creatures, some at great personal cost, we salute you.
Artist and activist Shepard Fairey has been sounding the alarm on environmental
issues and the climate for years now. His voice resonates because he’s informed
and straight-forward with his graphic campaigns to elevate the discussion where
we all can participate with the shared goal of leaving this planet in much
better shape than it was when we were born. Here are a couple of posters he
just released through his design studio Studio No 1.
This way when the neighbors in the building across the street see you hanging out the window during our 7 pm public applause session — they’ll know even more about your worldview.
“Art has the power to bring us together, even when we’re apart,” says Street Artist, graphic artist, fine artist Shepard Fairey, who has designed posters along with his Studio Number One for us all to use as we like. It may even help many of us feel like we are doing this together, instead of solo.
“We are all in this together,” Shepard says, “and we will
Where is the People’s Bailout? Why has the bailout that was promised to small businesses already run out? Why is congress on vacation? Why is Biden staring up at the wall like he’s concentrating on a dead spider? The people are dying, running out of food, the economy is dying, businesses are dying. The Post Office, starved and bad-mouthed for years by the capitalists who want to kill it, is finally dying. Do we realize which direction the US is being dragged by the oligarchs and their one party corporate Republicrat-Demoblicans?
This summer New York has been crazily, sometimes chaotically overlaid with tons of graffiti, Street Art, and murals – a testament to the enduring passion of a public that wants to see this organic patterning of the city skin, and the unquenchable thirst that artists and writers in New York have for showing their work to the public without intervening forces. Some of it is illegal, some of it is legal – all of it is part of the New York conversation.
Additionally, and in concert with, this ongoing conversation is a private pop-up exhibition called “Beyond the Streets” that pulls back from this moment and looks at pertinent and fundamental slices of the first 50 years of art in the streets from the perspective of a handful of sharp-eyed curators who have done their homework.
Presented in the context of historians defining a view of the scene with an eye toward private collectors of contemporary art, the vast show features paintings, sculpture, photography, site-specific installations, commercially branded environments, a large gift shop, historical ephemera – and a 30th anniversary Shepard Fairey exhibition within the exhibition.
“Beyond the Streets” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was originally a three-month show that ran through August, it has been extended to September 29th – as they say – by popular demand. In addition, to celebrate and thank the community for their support, BEYOND THE STREETS will host free admission day on Thursday August 29th.
For some humorous summer reading ; the white-gloved New York Times took their semi-annual trip on the subway – just to stay in touch with the commoners – and was scandalized by the tawdry state of advertising in the subways, with suggestive phallic shapes and ladies posing in underwear and what not. NYT was not however scandalized by the chronically destitute conditions of subway infrastructure like the enormous pieces of peeling ceiling poised to drop on people at the Chambers station for example. Or the rats. Or the lack of garbage cans, police officers, newsstands, air conditioning or the the $2.75 fare that has outpaced inflation – meaning that the equivalent of a 1987 fare would be about $2.03 if it had stayed with inflation, for example. That’s hardship on New York’s poor families – but New York Times is not talking about that.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Appleton Pictures, Banksy, City Kitty, Dr. SCO, Early Riser, FAUST, Gianni Lee, Heck Tad, Lambros, M*Code, Neon Savage, Shepard Fairey, and The Postman Art.
Shepard Fairey’s portrait of actor and activist Rosario Dawson on the water tank of a Manhattan building called “Power & Equality. The image celebrates this Lower East Side original who has been a champion activist for girls and women and who stays true to her roots.
We have been documenting this artist’s work for years now. His message is about diabetes/diabetic awareness and its causes, our addiction with sugar and the food industry relentless habit of adding sugary ingredients on almost all prepared foods…that and the innordinate sugar amounts on soft drinks of course. So it was a big surprise to have caught the artist in action while putting work on his usual spot on the magnet wall in Chelsea.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring BRCEDU, Captain Eyeliner, Damon, Dark Clouds,Fhake, Ghake, Jerk Face, Mad Villian, Mattew Hyte, MurOne, Praxis, R Burns Wilder, Shepard Fairey, Sinned, Stikman, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Thomas Allen, and Vy.