Shepard Fairey Reloaded

I started this blog by writing about Shepard Fairey. There hasn’t been much new on the Fairey front for a while, so I was pleased to find this. TMZ has a video of him churlishly admonishing his wife after she effectively tells someone that he no longer does his own wheatpasting. Does this surprise anyone? Fairey rakes in so much money, he can afford to hire a whole army of wheatpasters. Hell, I’m so desperate for work, I’d be willing to do it myself. (Shep, my hours are flexible.)

Mat Gleason, a critic for Coagula Art Journal, has a snarcky article about this in the Huffington Post. It begins:

    What is the difference between graffiti and paparazzi? Both are annoying invasions of public space. Whenever a cry to regulate either of these behaviors is heard, civil society acknowledges that it would take too much erosion of personal liberty to stop one or both. Therefore we tolerate and occasionally celebrate these rogue exercises on the fringes of free speech.

One should never criticize graffiti without also criticizing outdoor advertising. The latter is a far more pervasive and annoying invasion of public space. I’m no fan of Shepard Fairey, but I would rather look at one of his silly “Obey” signs than an advertisement for deodorant or toothpaste. When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent a large chunk of my time sitting in traffic with nothing to look at except enormous billboards urging me to watch Judge Judy (“Gotcha!”) or Dr. Phil (“You’ve Got Your Battles, He’s Got Your Back!”) or some other insipid TV show. So, no, you’re never going to hear me complaining about graffiti, not even when it’s done by a pompous fraud like Fairey.

Gleason ends his article with this:

    If cash-starved local governments look up their own old laws still on the books and, having seen Fairey’s own wife confirming on the record that the family fortune was based on advertising in these civic-controlled public spaces, will cities and counties all across America unite to collect fees from the Obey Empire with her admission as a pretext to write up an invoice? Imagining this were your empire, would you tell her to shut the fuck up?

This is high-minded talk coming from someone who writes for the Huffington Post, which is notorious for not paying people, while its owners get rich. People who live in glass houses…

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