The CAC welcomed the “renowned street artist and political provocateur,” as they call Fairey, with a free opening on Friday night. We were there, along with what seemed like half of Cincinnati, many of the citizens dressed rather fashionably.
Shepard Fairey arrived in town a day early and kicked things off by pasting up a half-dozen street murals (approved by the city!) like this one near 6th and Walnut.
Crowds jam the lobby of the Contemporary Arts Center on Friday night. The CAC, by the way, is the same place where museum director Dennis Barrie was indicted for “pandering obscenity” in 1990, hours after the opening of a show of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe.
“Seven feet four inches five hundred twenty pounds.”
That confounding and amusing phrase is repeated on dozens of Fairey’s early works, along with the face known as “the Obey Giant.”
Finally, the star of the show.
Up close you can see that Fairey paints many of his works over old newspapers, the print of which shows partly through. It’s a cool effect that adds depth, even as it gives his work a scattered busyness that can be frustrating. The blue on this poster was a relief and really adds warmth.
It’s great seeing HOPE after going through room after room of OBEY. And ironical, yes: first poster after poster of Fairey warning of the power of imagery, than Fairey using that same power of imagery to help elect a president. I can’t decide if it was a tremendous sell-out to the creepy forces he warns of, or his most effective piece of criticism yet. Or is it more like the story that Erich Segal wrote the novel Love Story just to prove he could write a best-seller?
Oop! This must be that “political provocateur” side the Contemporary Arts Center warned us about.
Back down in the lobby, a mighty two-story mural of rocker Patti Smith.
Great show. Colorful, fun, and (eventually) thought-provoking. The place was getting crazier as we were leaving — Shepard Fairey himself was supposed to be spinning records for a late-night party in the lobby. As we went out the front entrance, the door lady counted heads and then let in two more people from the growing line outside.