Shepard Fairey's In Town, Doing Up West Dallas

Categories: Arts, Events

Shepard Fairey1.jpg
Photos by Justin Terveen
Shepard Fairey on Singleton today, site of one of several buildings he'll decorate during his weeklong visit to Dallas
The view from the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is about to get a lot cooler. This afternoon a spotless rented silver minivan pulled up at 331 Singleton, a vacant West Dallas office space with a large, invitingly blank outer wall. A group of four guys rolled from the van and started unloading things onto the ground: plastic paint bins, cans of spray-on adhesive, a paint-splattered, non-matching set of aprons.

"If there were a theme to these murals, it's peace and harmony," said Shepard Fairey. He wore a black zip-up hoodie and battered sneakers; now in his '40s, his blonde hair is tinged with gray. He unrolled a set of renderings and showed them to us. All the images are done in bold outlines of red, white and black; he pointed out one of a lovely woman with her eyes closed, a rose in her hair and a peace sign pendant around her neck. "That's a portrait of my wife meditating," he explained. "But the peace sign is subtly in there."

Fairey's in town for the first time in almost 10 years as part of a partnership with the Dallas Contemporary. The museum invited him to do a series of murals throughout this week all over West Dallas; he began today with the building on Singleton. They'll celebrate on Thursday with a DC members-only book-signing event, followed by a free discussion that's open to the public. There's also a "commencement" celebration scheduled for Saturday, a "neon-themed dance extravaganza" for which you can purchase tix here.

Fairey pointed out another image of a woman with her eyes cast upward, next to the legend "Rise Above."

Shepard Fairey2.jpg
"This is based on a few different references," he said. "It's no one specific. It's this idea of defiant positivity." Behind him, his team of three guys hopped on motorized lifts and ascended to the top of the building wall. They took paper stencils of the designs and started to affix them to the building with adhesive spray. They'll spray-paint the images, then remove the stencils and fill in the rest with paint. The wind buffeted them around the tiny platforms of the lift and wreaked havoc with the paper stencils they were trying to unroll. They barely seemed to notice.

"I try to incorporate a little bit of humor in my images," Fairey said conversationally, one eye on the crew. He showed us one slogan that will go on the building, which read something like: "This has been called to your attention so you will know it has not been forgotten: PEACE."

"I have this idea that peace should be the status quo, rather than conflict. Unfortunately, it's the other way around," Fairey said. The murals will also include some abstract floral patterns, each bearing his "Obey star" in the center. Those were inspired, he said, by Hawaiian quilt designs. Although the museum asked Fairey to come, he's financed the cost of bringing the crew and materials in himself.

The property owners -- Stuart Fitts, Phil Romano and Butch McGregor -- showed up, looking just a bit apprehensive. "We appreciate the space," Fairey told them, shaking each of their hands. They chatted politely for a while about the Dallas art scene, the ridiculous wind that was slowing down the pace of the work.

"We wanted to see what he was putting up before giving him carte blanche," Fitts told us. Behind him, a larger Obey started to take shape on the far left edge of the wall. "But it's fine."

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Travis Rex
Travis Rex

No local guys helping and getting paid? 

J.B.
J.B.

"Safe" graffiti for a "safe" city. Never2501 would of been my choice of a distinctive treatment. Good press for the Contemporary though....

bloody hipster runoff
bloody hipster runoff

typical Dallas, overpay (probably) the greying artist who peaked in '08, rather than promote our own.

but hey, cooler than what's there.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Aaaaaaaannnnnnnnd....we're hatin' again. God, don't you clowns ever get tired of bagging on EVERYTHING? If it's not the ultra-hippest thing out there, it's not worth doing? Is that what you're saying?

How about, "Wow. That's pretty cool. Not really my thing, but it'll be way, way better than a blank wall on an abandoned building."? Why is that so difficult?

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

Oh man the artist is FOUR YEARS out of date so he is "PAST HIS PEAK"???.

Now if THAT isnt "typical Dallas attitude" I dont know what is.

Just replace "the artist" with "party dress", and "FOUR YEARS" with "an entire season" and, well,...

bloody hipster runoff
bloody hipster runoff

could replace "mural" with "bridge" and you'd get the same sentiment.

this town has to import its culture in order to feel good about it, meanwhile ignoring folks in our own backyard because they couldn't be that cool if they're from here (until of course they get popular somewhere else)

ever wonder why so many artists (visual and otherwise) bail to cooler places...

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

Yes well perhaps if you backed your thesis statement up with 3 or 4 great examples, people would take it seriously.

Oh wait sorry you didnt attend that class, did you???

LDR4
LDR4

Really? One of the murals is going to say Rise Above? The city of Dallas went out of their way to paint over all the Rise Above (RA) murals that popped up across the city during the late 90s and early 00's. Well, if anything it will make me remember the good ole days. But good for the Dallas Contemporary, they're late to the Fairey party but better late than never.

Lambrettista
Lambrettista

Maybe they'll get Frank Kozik next time... lol.

LaceyB
LaceyB

this is all very exciting and very "exit through the gift shop". Well, it would be exciting if Dallas Contemporary hadn't had to have final approval. What's the fun in pop-up art if it isn't stealth and a "kick in the face with a golf shoe" to the ruling class?

Georgehartman99
Georgehartman99

Man this guy has made millions of dollars of a movement were other people did most of his work for him.if it wasn't for all the seenster graffiti kids who probably themselves have never even done any illegal graffiti our art putting up the big part of his Andrea the giant stickers and,pasting his posters he wouldn't be the rich man he is today and I hate when wack as people put him in the graffiti category he hasn't put in know work on the street that's why all the real graffiti writers that put their ass on the line painting freeways trains overpass buildings roof tops billboards I could go on on don't give him his respect. Lets keep it real out their people keep smashing the streets graffiti is one of the last purest art forms their is it belongs on the streets illegal.u wanna give someone props give revok msk props he a living legend that's still smashing hard all over the world. Much love to all the real writer's out their from the dark empire crew $representing$ inland empire, Los Angeles, San Frisco, Oakland,Hawaii, Arizona, San Diego if were not real flicker us love

Elwin
Elwin

Fairey is a millionaire now. and probably one of the most recognizable living artists in the world. his "masked avenger" days are long over. what's the big deal?

i like his work and glad that he's here, b/c you know what...some of it will be pretty kick-ass to see.

RTGolden
RTGolden

"... now in his '40s, his blonde hair is tinged with gray. ..."

Blonde hair? Is that not him in the picture then?

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

He was blonde at one time. Still kinda is, but really more gray now, I suppose. As you can see. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

It's an unimportant detail anyway, i just felt like sniping.

lambrettista
lambrettista

"it's fine"? it's fucking amazing! Come to deep ellum and we'll let you do whatever the fuck you want to our buildings. We ain't afraid of art, like them West-Side skeerdy cats!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Which Maybe why the Man is out to crush Deep Ellum !

Welcome to Conformist West Dallas .Artistic Freedom Nah not so much.

They aren't so sure what they want .. But I bet its not you or your freedom loving ways

Hey! Its not like they want me either .

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

Thank god he's not painting an Oak Cliff mural...you know,the type whose brush strokes instantly tell you it was done by a real amateur and whose subject matter -- the self-appointed important of Oak Cliff -- reminds everyone of the public art in some banana republic.

West Dallas. Conformist. Yeah...one drive down Singleton or Fort Worth Avenue definitely makes 'conformist' be the first word to come to mind...

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

That said, a world-renowned artist is painting on your buildings (presumably with your approval) and you "wanted to see what he was putting up before you gave him carte blanche"?

Boys, boys you REALLY need to put your big boy panties on and let go of all of the FEAR that's controlling the decision making in your life.

It isn't like this is some 14 year old with a can of spray paint who just got released from juvey...

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