Historical Item

Shepard Fairey's Arrest Begs Question: Art or Vandalism?

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.

Why Stencil Typography Is Here To Stay

Why Stencil Typography Is Here To Stay

(from fastcodedesign.com; photo by Louise Fili)

DESIGNERS LOUISE FILI AND STEVEN HELLER COMPILE 60 YEARS OF STENCIL TYPE FROM 8 COUNTRIES AND REVEAL WHY THE PRIMITIVE STYLE STILL REIGNS.

The stencil is one of the world’s most primitive printing techniques. It dates back to prehistory, with stencils found in caves, in the art of ancient China and Japan, and in the crafts of indigenous people worldwide. Stencil typefaces are still popular today, whether in the form of new, witty takes on the genre, like Der Weiner Stentzel’s sausage shapes for letterforms, or vintage typefaces redrawn as stencils, like Bodoni or Century.

Stencil Type, a new book by design gurus Steven Heller and Louise Fili, compiles 60 years of this universal typographic style with photos from around the world. It reveals why the stencil has been and remains such a valuable tool for designers and typographers even in the age of digital printing.

Compared to other forms of typesetting, stenciling has always been a low-cost, easy-to-use medium for bold, clearly legible mass communication. This made it ubiquitous in the military and transportation industry (think of the stenciled labels on shipping containers and burlap bags); in populist and rebellious movements (in occupied France, the stenciled letter "V" for victoire became a powerful symbol of resistance; much of the Occupy movement’s poster art is stenciled); and in magazine and poster design, especially in the Bauhaus, Futurist, Constructivist, and Art Deco movements.

Taking a Tour of El Castillo Cave, Seeing Ancient Hand Stencils

19 November 2014
A journey deep inside Spain’s temple of cave art
In Spain Arts & Architecture By Rachel Corbett, for the BBC

I gasped at my first glimpse of a cave painting: a crude red outline of a deer with one wild circle for an eye. Its iron pigments blazed under the lamplight. The illusion of a breastbone emerged, ingeniously, out of a hump in the limestone wall. After a while, a cave becomes a long black tunnel of sensory deprivation; the sight of this tender image jolted my breath back to life.

“Can you tell you’re in a sacred place?” asked Marcos Garcia Diez, the archaeologist who had agreed to show me some of the most breathtaking rock art ever created. “This cave is like a church and that’s why ancient people returned, returned, returned here for thousands of years.”

Jutting from the base of a mountain about 85km west of Bilbao, El Castillo is one of the world’s most celebrated rock art temples. When Homo sapiens first began their northward migration from Africa to Europe around 40,000 years ago, some joined the Neanderthals here in Cantabria, a region that is home to at least 40 painted caves, including El Castillo. So magnificent are the province’s primordial masterpieces that when Picasso visited, he reportedly declared, “We have learned nothing in 12,000 years.”

40,000 Year Old Hand Stencils in Indonesia

Cave Paintings in Indonesia Redraw Picture of Earliest Art
The dating discovery recasts ancient cave art as a continent-spanning human practice.

Dan Vergano
National Geographic
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 8, 2014

A hand painted in an Indonesian cave dates to at least 39,900 years ago, making it among the oldest such images in the world, archaeologists reported Wednesday in a study that rewrites the history of art.

The discovery on the island of Sulawesi vastly expands the geography of the first cave artists, who were long thought to have appeared in prehistoric Europe around that time. Reported in the journal Nature, the cave art includes stencils of hands and a painting of a babirusa, or "pig-deer," which may be the world's oldest figurative art.

Mysteries of medieval graffiti (UK)

Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England's churches
By Neil Heath
BBC News (See all the photos here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-28035013)

A head of a man was found etched into a wall of a church in Gonerby, Lincolnshire - but what does it mean?

Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England's past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?

A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.

36,000 year old stencils get world heritage status

'Prehistoric Sistine Chapel' gets world heritage status
http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27978440

A cave in southern France dubbed the "prehistoric Sistine Chapel" has been added to Unesco's World Heritage list.

The 1,000 drawings carved in the walls of the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc, or Grotte Chauvet, are 36,000 years old and include mammoths and hand prints.

Google Adds Graffiti to Its Art Portfolio

Google Adds Graffiti to Its Art Portfolio
By RACHEL DONADIO ::: JUNE 10, 2014

PARIS — There’s a portrait of an anonymous Chinese man chiseled into a wall in Shanghai, a colorful mural in Atlanta and black-and-white photographs of eyes that the French artist JR affixed to the houses of a hillside favela in Rio de Janeiro. These are among the images of more than 4,000 works included in a vast new online gallery of street art that Google is unveiling here on Tuesday.

Called the Street Art Project, the database was created by the company’s Paris-based Google Cultural Institute. Using images provided by cultural organizations worldwide, some of which were captured with Google’s Street View camera technology, it includes street art from around the globe, including work that no longer exists, like the 5Pointz murals in Long Island City, Queens, or the walls of the Tour Paris 13 tower in France.

invurt.com Interviews DLUX (Now and Then, Melbourne)

Interview – DLUX – James Dodd

http://www.invurt.com/2014/05/14/interview-dlux-james-dodd/
 

It’s 2004, Melbourne, and things for the cities vibrant stencil art community are about to change. For many years the stencil was king – so much so that books were written, international websites spawned and a global movement eagerly watched the streets come alive in nooks and crannies with cut and sprayed works of art. from the political to the humourous,  – in these days, freedom aerosol was still, for the most part, mostly practiced by graffiti artists and what we know as the “street art scene” was dominated by stencils and the artists who created them, plied a swaths across the city.

But 2004 was the year of a major international event in Melbourne, the Commonwealth games, and with it came a massive cleanup across the city – walls washed and sterilised in the name of “making shit look better”, and with the cleanup went many of the cities beloved stencil art. The City of Melbourne, as hard as it may be to believe these days, went to “war” on graffiti and street art, one which, in hindsight, it appears it was less a victor than at the time it had thought it had been.

It was the year that the first incarnation of the Blender studios was shut down, and the year that the Everfresh studios opened – it was a time of transition between the old, and the new. Artist such as Sync, Ha-Ha and, of course, Dlux, three artists who had been right in amongst the stencil art and street art movement, moved off into different directions – continuing to pursue their works and enlivening their, and consequently our, surroundings.

Ancient Graffiti at Church of the Nativity

Graffiti and selfies record pilgrims' progress at Bethlehem shrine
Academics are only now studying messages and paintings on the Church of the Nativity's columns dating back to the Crusades
Matthew Kalman in Bethlehem
The Guardian, Monday 23 December 2013 14.31 EST
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/23/graffiti-selfies-record-bet...

Most visitors to the Church of the Nativity head straight for the grotto beneath the altar where, according to tradition, Jesus was born 2014 years ago. But among the throng of pre-Christmas pilgrims this year, Karen Stern, a historian at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, was more interested in the six-metre-high columns built to support the roof by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century.

In the gloom of the ancient nave, Stern's torch picks out hundreds of tiny crosses scratched into the four rows of columns – a common practice of ancient pilgrims who wanted to make their mark on the holiest shrines in Christendom – long before Banksy helped transform the walls of Bethlehem into a canvas for world-class street art.

Q & A: The Eviction Stencils (SF, CA)

By Sarah McClure
From missionlocal.org: http://missionlocal.org/2013/12/q-a-the-suitcase-stencils/
Posted December 7, 2013 6:00 am

Of all Mission’s graffiti, none likely appear with as much ubiquity than the stencils of a wheeled suitcase inscribed with the words, “Tenants Here Forced Out.”

Photo: stencilarchive.org

Always strategically placed, the suitcase stencils materialize on the pavement in front of a building that enacted an Ellis Act eviction — one in which the owner evicts all tenants to then generally sell it.
Mission Local recently sat down with two anti-eviction movement leaders: Erin McElroy of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, and Rebecca Gourevitch of Eviction-Free San Francisco to learn about the suitcase stencils and how grassroots today are fighting displacement in the Bay Area.

Mission Local: What is the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project?

Erin McElroy: It’s a collective of people working together to map the evictions and displacement that San Francisco residents are experiencing and the ways that dispossession are being enacted.

ML: How many people are in the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project?

EM: There are about six of us — all volunteers.

ML: So, I’ve been seeing a lot of these pavement stencils around the city. How many stencils are in the Mission District?

EM: I would imagine there are 15-20 stencils.

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