How Shepard Fairey's arrest provides a new look at an old question: Is it art or is it vandalism?
By DEBORAH VANKIN AND DAVID NG (LA Times)
Shepard Fairey has never been one to play by the rules — and that's par for the course for someone in a street art community that exists on the cultural margins.
Or does it?
The L.A.-based street artist and graphic designer, best known for his 2008 "Hope" poster timed with Barack Obama's presidential campaign as well as the "Obey" image seen on posters and T-shirts worldwide, was arrested last week while passing through customs at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities there noticed that Detroit police had issued a warrant last month related to two counts of malicious destruction of property.
Fairey, 45, had been accused of putting up posters, without permission, on private and government property in Detroit. But once he was in custody in L.A., Detroit police backed off: They declined to extradite the artist.
"In terms of graffiti, it's not as high as a murder or rape or something," Detroit police Officer Dan Donakowski said Monday, a day before Fairey surrendered to Detroit police and was quickly arraigned and released.