It’s a strange, yet extremely warming, phenomenon to see an artist who was once being put behind bars for pursuing his artist vision now earning a steady living off the same exact trade. Street art is a rapidly growing sector of the artistic community, yet it still yields plenty of hesitancy from the public as well.
This past week, Philadelphia received a special visit from world-renown street artistShepard Fairey. After four days of work, Fairey was joined by Jane Golden, executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, in dedicating the piece on Friday, August 8th. Located at 1228 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown, the work, titled “Lotus Diamond” reflects Fairey’s vibrant and unique style, utilizing the Andre the Giant/Obey face- from one of his previous (and ongoing) campaigns- in a new mandala style pattern. The painting was completed Fairey and his team entirely using spray paint, and now stands at 29’x29′. Fairey was also the artist behind the Obama “Hope” artistic campaigns.
A humbleness and sense of sincerity radiated from Fairey as he stood by during Golden’s introduction. He held a shy smile as she spoke on the city’s behalf in expressing gratitude from our artistic and community at large. When it was Fairey’s turn to take the microphone, he was short, but sweet in his message. For the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to welcome Fairey into our city to contribute this new piece was nothing short of an honor for both ends. The program is already striving in Philadelphia, working to keep artist “vandals” from behind bars, instead lending their creativity to city-sponsored murals. As a result, The City of Brotherly Love now holds a unique reputation for its staggering amount of gorgeous public murals scattered all about the city.
Noting his own “16 arrests”, Fairey expressed his enthusiasm for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the support it has received, further commending the growth it has seen. As a developing artist Fairey noted he was constantly hassled by law enforcement. This, however, only fueled his gratitude in our local government welcoming him into Philadelphia to try his hand with legal support.
Golden further mentioned that Fairey will be looking to return to Philadelphia at least two more times in the coming year to complete separate pieces throughout the city. Little detail was given other than that more information would come.