Mister Brainwash

Our first off day of the North American tour happened to be in a city who's modern art museum was hosting a Shepard Fairey exhibit.  I went and scoped it out and felt strongly about it, wrote a blog post over and over again in my head, but never got the fingers to the keyboard to post it.  I just finished watching "Exit Through The Gift Shop" and now I feel like I should post something about it.

So first, "Exit Through The Gift Shop" is FANTASTIC and I hope to host some watch parties some point before I leave for South America.  One of my favorite things when I went to Paris for the first time was Invader's artwork around the city.  Exit does a great job of highlighting street art and how one man's quest to document things lead to his own creation of those same pieces of art.  How being so entrenched in that environment caused his personal creativity to flow to a point that he put everything on the line for success and people bought into it.  Is it really that good, or were people actually brainwashed?  In my personal opinion it's the latter, but that's the great thing about this style of art.  Even if it's not your favorite thing to stop and look at, it adds something to the urban environment all around you in a subtle way that you don't even consciously realize.  But in some way it adds a little bit of culture to an otherwise mundane commute, walk, train ride, or whatever you might be doing.

Now to the Shepard Fairey exhibit at the Cincinnati contemporary art museum.  That just sucked.  MBW might have tricked people into thinking what he was doing was actually art, but at least he did it in a compelling way.  I've been a fan of Shepard's since before people even knew what Obey Giant was, but this was a bowing down to the traditional gallery way with artwork that has been revolutionary in its un-traditional display.  Who needs to see Shepard's posters nicely framed and matted and on display on clean white walls, in rooms where nobody speaks and where I had to sneak photographs.  That's not what street art is ment to be and that's now how it should be displayed.  Whomever put together the Fairey exhibit should have taken a leap.  Create a street scene.  Give everyone a poster or a sticker when they pay to get in and give no instruction.  Some people will keep it as a momento of the day.  Others will stick it all around the exhibit.  Creating a live piece of art that's constantly changing and is a real testament to what this street art is intended to be.