Associated Press photo of Shepard Fairey with Obama Hope Collage
The Shepard Fairey trail of stories on Label Networks continues to grow, but this time under suspicion that the Boston Police are using the legendary street artist as an example. Shepard was to be honored for his work at the Boston ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) last week and was supposedly welcomed with open arms with news of his upcoming exhibition plastered across the front page of the Boston Globe and handshakes with the Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino.
However when he arrived at the museum parking lot, his cab was pulled over and he was arrested before entering under suspicion of street art tags. The police said they were “new warrants” for arrest and he was taken in seconds before 800 fans who paid up to $500 for tickets on Craig’s List, could see their street art idol.
The best story of what went down is now running on Wooster Collective, as based on Shepard’s friend, Dave Combs, who was in the cab at the time of the arrest.
Meanwhile, WWD (yes, the fashion magazine) did an interview with Shepard after he was released, mainly because Levi Strauss was sponsoring his exhibition in Boston, and Shepard will be doing a collaboration with Levi’s with new product to hit the shelves May 1st.
According to the WWD interview, Shepard said, “They targeted me because I’m a symbol. I think my arrest was a reflection of an old way of thinking and amplifies the abuses of power that are discussed in my work. They’re trying to make a statement about the culture that I’m promoting.”
“I think every taxpayer owns a piece of public property,” said Fairey of his justification for using public spaces for his art. “Street art is a way to connect with an audience directly, without any bureaucracy. Being arrested is a risk I take, and I think it’s worth it.” For the record, Shepard has been arrested about 15 times that he can recall.
Ironically, as street artists are constantly under threat of getting arrested, they are also in high demand for their authenticity, artistry, and symbolism of cool to a new generation. And tend to get picked now among top brands, agencies, and retailers to create campaigns or participate in collaborations as companies try to tap into the necessary cred-factor of reaching youth culture today.
Shepard was also just recently tapped by Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City to work on a campaign for their store.
Meanwhile, Shepard’s exhibition is running at ICA until August 16th, showcasing some of his most valued work from large collages, to posters, and stickers.
“What I’m interested in showing is the complexities of life, and the paradox in a lot of situations. Depending on which cultural perspective you are coming from, good and evil can be interchangeable.” Well said.