Mark Slater’s Weblog

Musings about work, life, and all things in between

Shepard Fairey, Boston and the redux

I had a feeling that we had not heard the end of the Shepard Fairey saga

It came as a pleasant surprise that a friend of mine took up the baton by writing to the Boston globe yesterday.

This was met with a host of comments both positive and negative and with an article or column written by a certain Kevin Cullen of the Boston globe

By way of disclosure – i am a friend of Greg and his wife Dina, and former active member of karmaloop since its inception. What Greg is trying to clearly articulate in his letter is nothing to do with whether shep broke the law, or whether tagging is a crime – its purely to do with the ridiculous timing of the actions taken by the Boston police that in turn is indicative of a larger culture of ignorance that hangs like a bad smell over ‘brand boston’.

This notion was authenticated in today’s paper (they still actually make those?) by kevin ‘insert campy irish knickname’ cullen.pig_police_cartoon1

lets try and boil this down.

Tagging, graffiti, and defacing of other people’s property is a crime. Shep and anyone else should answer to such charges in due process. Yes due process Kevin – you know that magna Carta tenet that is a building block of our great 5th amendment.

What Greg is arguing and i agree – is that the arrest – valid that it indeed was – made a larger statement than its role in ‘due process’. It stunk of the exact brand ignorance that continues to see Boston firmly parked in the space labeled ‘creative backwater’. Because it was an action greater than the execution of due process – it logically leads people to infer such notions of the city’s systemic ignorance. Ignorance so beautifully articulated in your column.

i mean seriously – Do you know Fairey? have you bothered to see whether there is any art in that vandals portfolio? – have you bothered to look in to his background, or to try and understand the creative movement that he participates in. A culture and lifestyle that Karmaloop also participates in.(the underbelly of which unfortunately is the taggers and vandals that do break the law).

Let me give you a quick lesson in case you were wondering.

Shep went to arguably one of America’s finest art colleges – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He was a classmate of my brothers. He comes from a sophisticated set of artistic disciplines and he leads a new type of creative movement that draws its sources from the same creative well that saw the explosion of re-mixing, DJ’ing and the such in the late 80’s in electronic music. Taking an existing piece of art and re-constituting through the lens of the participant. Ever heard of Warhol?180px-warhol-campbell_soup-1-screenprint-19681

Rhode Island School of Design
Image via Wikipedia

Karmaloop was founded and existed in one of those ‘art lofts’ in the south end for 4 years. it was the Piano Factory – i doubt you’ve been there – i never saw you and i lived there. Karmaloop is now a thriving business that Greg has built from nothing – it is the largest retailer of wares for this category worldwide – it is a creative hub for young Boston artists and musicians contributing to the fabric of this city.

This is a generation you are clearly ignorant of and have never bothered to research or participate in.

You would be well served to do your homework in future. The explosion of the paper business is imminent (see thousands of examples of its demise)and your future will increasingly rely on a more participatory form of journalism – you cant just spout your ignorant view without a feedback loop.

So yes – i say arrest fairey if he has warrants – and don’t canonize the underbelly aspects of this social movement that involve vandalizm and property damage.

But supporting an action that goes beyond due process, and in doing so telling the world that we are a bigoted bunch of creative prohibitionists is an unfair indictment on this city.

The bottom line is that this is an important and exciting installation for Boston. this is Greg’s point – Go see it – its very good.

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Friday Night at the ICA

I was invited to attend the opening of Supply and Demand by Shepard Fairey on friday night and it certainly did not dissapoint. Aside from the highly covered news of said Artist being arrested before he could attend the opening of his own show, the crowd were in a highly festive spirit. There was a line outside in the bitter cold, the event was sold out, and tickets were rumored to be going for silly prices.

Shepard went to college with my brother at RISD, many years ago, and we used to know him fondly as the T-shirt guy. We used to organize large electronic events in the new England area, and Shep used to run a silk screening business and supply us with t-shirts. he also used to sticker up each venue with no end of the early Andre Stickers!

The event was a true mish mash of several generations of the more alternative Boston population. Clearly Shep has struck a chord that transcends ages, and styles. Its been a very long time since i went out and saw such a diverse and interesting crowd. the exhibition did not disappoint, and i will surely go back for a more peaceful visit over the next few months. I highly reccomend it.

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