Category Archives: arty statements

On Shepard Fairey

(Image from photos I took of Shepard Fairey’s visit to the Boston Phoenix offices)

In this week’s New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl comments on the storm of recent Shepard Fairey news, with some interesting points-of-view.

Fairey’s fight with the AP over whether the Obama photo he used for his famous “Hope” poster is downright stolen or covered by fair use laws, Schjeldahl says, is a “predictable legal snarl”:

“The general issue is an old story of our litigious republic. Appropriative artists, including David Salle, Jeff Koons, and Richard Prince, have been sued at intervals since Campbell’s soup went after Warhol, in 1962 (but then thought better of it). As an art maven, I’m for granting artists blanket liberty to play with any existing image…. and I’m bored by the kerfuffle’s rote recurrence, with its all but scripted lines for plaintiff and defendant alike.”

Fairey cites Warhol as one of his primary artistic influences – no surprise there – and it’s interesting that nearly 50 years after audiences struggled to consider images of soup cans as art, we’re still having trouble with the concept of blatant, purposely apparent borrowdness as a medium.

“Fairey’s stylistic borrowings from Russian Revolutionary, Soviet, and W.P.A. propaganda are often remarked upon,” Schjeldahl writes. “But borrowedness itself—studied anachronism—is his mode of seduction.”

Schjeldahl only makes a brief-yet-poignant mention of Fairey’s arrest, implying that the incident is only worth a few words – can you hear that, Boston.com commenters? – because the pro- versus anti-graffiti/street art argument has probably been around longer than Fairey himself. Street artsists exhibit their work in galleries often, and many have been arrested. Fairey just did it on a grander scale (at the ICA), and at a moment when the public (in Boston and elsewhere) happened to have all eyes on him.

“Boston’s I.C.A. has condoned a citywide smattering of street art by Fairey, as an extension of the show. That makes sense. So does the decision of the Boston police to arrest him for it, on his way to the show’s opening.”

Perhaps, much like Warhol did for pop artists, Fairey – as America’s best-known street artist at the moment (besides Banksy, whose anonymity lends him a separate and unique set of issues) – is creating a whole new set of inevitables for street artists making a foray into the museum and gallery world. Or maybe it’s just history repeating itself.

Daily street art.

From the Phlog:

Yes, I know, I should rename this whole street art series something like “Sporadic Street Art Updates,” or “Sometimes daily street art.” Let’s just say I’m using the term loosely. This weekend I plan on visiting my favorite street art-related spot in town: the Wall in Central Square, so I can capture some photo updates of what’s going there. As I’ve mentioned before, the whole project began last October, when a who’s who of Boston and New York-based street artists threw their stuff all over the formerly boring brick outside of Central Kitchen (and on the roof, and other how-did-they-get-there? spots). Then, inevitably, shit fell down or was spray painted over with non-interesting “0’s,” etc. NOW there’s more art over the old art, this layer over that layer over that layer, so it’s spanned beyond just a street artist’s roll call – it’s a concentrated statement of what’s happening in cities all over the world, everyday. Here’s hoping it keeps going!

I don’t know a ton about today’s handpicked local artist, noirboston, but I’m a fan of his gold (and sometimes neon,) Scooby Doo zombie character-like stencils currently lining the streets of Boston with other familiar characters, like Nineta and Goldenstash, like Boston’s freaky, unofficial street art mascots, greeting you en route to wherever you’re going.

As for the non-local street artist du jour, Roadsworth‘s stuff seems to be popping up everywhere, from Amsterdam, to Montreal, to Quebec, to Berlin, if Flickr is to be trusted as a location source. Roadsworth’s shtick is using road markings as a base for his or her artwork, transforming crosswalks, manhole covers, and other common city staples into statements of inspired cleverness. This is a somewhat Banksy-ish tactic that I’ve written about before; and the artists who do this – use pre-existing environments a the catalyst for artistic ventures – are the some of the most interesting. It’s a means of changing expectations for what you might see on a daily walk – who doesn’t want to stumble across art right under their feet?

In Boston: noirboston


Photos by noirboston.

Not in Boston: Roadsworth



Photo by nomsaleena.


Photo by greynotgrey.


Photo by hobbes313.


Photo by François @ Edito.qc.ca.

Daily street art.

From the phlog:

In Boston (Cambridge): Stenciled-on musicians are brightening those bleak, concrete walls

Awesome pics by sushiesque, who also captured a heartbroken Loch Ness monster. We miss Elliott and Kurt too, Nessy.


Not in Boston (???):
Christine Autturio, my artsy, in-the-know co-worker, pointed out Skelewags, the crafty, Tim Burton-referencing street art currently decorating sewers and other unappealing city locations, by an artist called Chewy, on conceptart.org.  Actually, decorate isn’t even the right word, because Chewy incorporates his artwork into pre-existing structures, cracks, pipes, plants, etc. These things are not just canvases for the artwork, they’re part of it. It’s sort of Banksy-type thinking, that street art can be both inspired by and an improvement upon it’s surroundings. Chewy’s website is currently unfinished, and I wasn’t able to pin down exactly what city these photos are from, via extensive Google researching, but my could-be-totally-wrong guess is somewhere in Portugal, based on this. If anyone knows for sure, help a sista out and shoot me an e-mail.

Photos by Nuno Caria.

Sex and comics.

Art by Alex Barry.

Josie and the Pussycats were sexy for cartoons, but they were a fairly chaste trio — too shy to appear in full-frontal shower scenes. What would they have thought of Tijuana Bibles, the genre of comic-book pamphlets (circa 1930s), described by Pulitzer-winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman (Maus), in an introductory essay to the 2004 anthology Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s, as “cheerfully pornographic and downright illegal . . . they seem to marvel at the very idea of sex”?

Today, explicit sex still thrives in underground comics and graphic novels, and the Washington Street Art Center (WSAC) is taking a close look at the genre with an exhibit titled “Inappropriate Touching: Dirty Comics and Art,” opening Friday. The show includes works from more than 20 contributors, including  Whatever artist Karl Stevens, Vice magazine back-page creator Johnny Ryan, autobiographical comic artist Ariel Schrag, and Chicago Comics artist Jeffrey Brown.

“I see this as a sort of celebration of the medium’s stranger histories,” says local artist Alex Barry. One of his contributions to the show is a drawing of a smiling animal of uncertain species, standing with one hand down his pants beside the words “Please don’t judge me.”

“I’ll admit that there’s some pretty twisted stuff in there, but my aim isn’t to offend anybody. It’s more like poking fun at our right-leaning culture through irreverent wit,” explains Barry.

Read more here.

Also, I met Lisa Loeb.

A beautiful world?

Via the Phlog:

“It’s a Beautiful World” is such a bold expression of naïveté, especially in light of events from the past 24 hours, which intrigues us.  Why would Scion title their installation art tour, which open in Boston at Rhys Gallery tomorrow night, so optimistically?  Is it sarcastic? Spiritually significant? Narrow-minded? Ironic?  Judge for yourself – the exhibit opens with a soiree with the artists, tomorrow evening from 6-9 pm, and runs through August 18. More info here.

And a few images from the show that we swiped from the Internets:


R.Grimes


Travis Millard


Blek Le Rat


Dalek


Andrew Pommier


Blaine Fontana


Caia Koopman