BOSTON VANDALISM CHARGES STIR DEBATE ON ART’S PLACE
By Abby Goodnough, NYTimes
BOSTON — This may be the only place in America where Shepard Fairey, the street artist whose omnipresent portrait of Barack Obama has become a touchstone, is not fully feeling the love.
Mr. Fairey appeared in two municipal courts here this week to fight a cascade of vandalism charges accusing him of pasting his work on public and private property from the Back Bay to Roxbury. While this is not his first encounter with the police — Mr. Fairey has been arrested more than a dozen times for posting his art on whatever surface catches his eye — it appears to be his biggest legal tangle to date.
By Wednesday, Mr. Fairey, who lives in Los Angeles, had pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor and 13 felony charges; his lawyer said the police were pursuing 19 more counts.
In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Fairey accused the police of “gratuitous piling on” and suggested he was being punished for advocating that public space “should be filled with more than just commercial advertising.” On the advice of his lawyer, Jeffrey Wiesner, he declined an interview request.
Mr. Fairey’s court appearances came a month after he was arrested on Feb. 6 as he arrived at the opening-night party for his retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art. His cab was approaching the museum when the police stopped it, handcuffed him and took him to jail overnight. Click HERE to continue reading…
This morning, SHEPARD FAIREY appeared in Roxbury District Court in Boston where he pleaded not guilty to vandalizing property in the city and was released on personal recognizance after his arraignment. He still faces charges in a separate case for other alleged vandalism that he will appear at Brighton District Court to enter a plea on soon. Meanwhile, read more about Shepard's Boston arrest at the BOSTON PHOENIX & THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RELATED STORY: "Timing questioned by artist in arrests," Boston Herald
Supertouch's own SHEPARD FAIREY was arrested for alleged vandalism claims while attempting to enter the grand public opening of his first museum solo show at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON last nite. Currently he's out on bail and awaiting a court appearance in Boston on Monday:
"A street artist famous for his red, white and blue "Hope" posters of President Obama was arrested in Boston, where he was wanted on warrants for tagging property with graffiti.
Shepard Fairey, 38, was arrested Friday night on his way to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Fairey was scheduled to deejay a kickoff event at the museum for his first-ever solo exhibition, called "Supply and Demand."
Two warrants were issued for Fairey on Jan. 24 after police determined he’d tagged property in two locations with graffiti based on the Andre the Giant street art campaign from his early career, Boston Police Officer James Kenneally said Saturday.
Fairey, of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charges Monday in Brighton District Court, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney. Wark said Fairey would also be arraigned on a default warrant related to a separate graffiti case in the Roxbury section of Boston.
Fairey has spent the last two weeks in the Boston area installing the ICA exhibit, giving public talks and creating outdoor art, including a 20-by-50 foot banner on the side of City Hall, according to a statement issued Saturday by the ICA.
The museum described the reason for Fairey’s arrest as "his efforts posting his art in various areas around the city."
"We believe Shepard Fairey has made an important contribution in the history of art and to popular thinking about art and its role in society," the statement said. "We are enthusiastic to be working with him and are pleased to be showing the first museum retrospective of his work."
The museum said Fairey was released a few hours after his arrest, but that could not immediately be confirmed by authorities. A California lawyer who has represented Fairey in the copyright case didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the arrest." Click HERE to continue reading...
Our own SHEPARD FAIREY has been a near constant presence on Supertouch of late, but what can we say, the last year has belonged to him. Capping off an epic string of career milestones beginning with his street level branding of the Obama campaign to being inducted into the Smithsonian and the attendant media blitz that ensued–most famously with his appearances on The Colbert Report and Charlie Rose, Ol' Shep managed to cap it all off last nite with the VIP preview of his career retrospective art show "Supply & Demand" at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON. Of course there were even more media microphones and cameras there (that's after doing two days of press before hand), but this time so was his loyal legion of diehard fans, which made it all worthwhile. Just to up the irony factor, local government just unveiled a massive Shepard mural outside the entrance of historic City Hall with the Mayor presiding over the occasion. Looks like art crime pays after all. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
It seems that Supertouch's own RON ENGLISH can't catch a break. After gifting the residents of Boston's South End with a 100 foot long rainbow "Abraham Obama" wheatpaste poster mural depicting the image of presidential hopeful BARACK OBAMA melded with the portrait of America's 16th president, the city's residents are crying for its removal. Not on political or even aesthetic grounds—though the installation has polarized viewers on both topics—but for the hundreds of illegal posters that have since popped up on walls around the city. Installed legally to commemorate the opening of Boston's GALLERY XIV political art show "A Politic," it seems our resident Popagandist made plentiful black & white copies of his hybrid portrait available free of charge to the show's attendees who have since taken it upon themselves to plaster the images on nearly every flat vertical surface around town. With the gallery fielding angry calls from the Mayor's office and MSNBC reporting nationally on the event, it seems young Abe's days might be numbered. Enjoy it while you can. HAVE A LOOK: Read More