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Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand

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From February 20th until August 22, 2010 all fans, foes, and unknow­ing Cincinnati com­muters will get a chance to expe­ri­ence phe­nom­e­nal and polit­i­cal art from one of the world’s most influ­en­tial graphic,street artists — Shepard Fairey.  In con­junc­tion with his twenty year ret­ro­spec­tive, Supply and Demand, which will be dis­played at the Contemporary Arts Center, select build­ing facades (with per­mis­sion) will show­case the now-famous artist’s wheat­paste murals in the Cincinnati area.

Perhaps you are famil­iar with some of his iconic cam­paigns, such as Obey Giant, Rock the Vote, and Hope?

Fairey’s work is known to pull together into rel­e­vance ele­ments of pop cul­ture, pol­i­tics and mar­ket­ing. The pat­terns and back­drops are famil­iar and pleas­ing. The style is that of pro­pa­ganda art, graphic and cur­rent but the iconic imagery and tan­ta­liz­ing text imposed onto the scenes tell his story.  Fairey believes one should “ques­tion every­thing” and this is felt when you expe­ri­ence his work. It poses questions.

On his web­site, Fairey states as their mis­sion an ide­ol­ogy based on phe­nom­e­nol­ogy, the pur­pose of which is to reawaken a sense of won­der about one’s envi­ron­ment. Fairey believes he accom­plished this with his OBEY cam­paign.  Launched in the 1989, while a stu­dent at the Rhode Island School of Design, it was a phe­nom­e­non and peo­ple did respond in near-frenzy to gain for them­selves the pop­u­lar but unex­plained sticker.

Starting as pri­mar­ily a street artist and ascend­ing into the seri­ous art world through the increas­ing cred­i­bil­ity awarded to the out­sider and skate­board art scene, Shepard has since gone on to pro­duce works of fine, graphic and com­mer­cial art along with high-impact guerilla mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. He has addi­tion­ally pro­duced book cov­ers and album cov­ers for bands from the Black Eyed Peas to Led Zeppelin and film posters for the film Walk the Line with the help of his wife Amanda Fairey, through their design agency, Studio Number One.

Barack Obama “Hope” Poster

His most famous work to date how­ever, is the com­pelling Obama HOPE poster, which has now been acquired by the US National Portrait Gallery and received a per­sonal let­ter of thanks from the President that stated:

I would like to thank you for using your tal­ent in sup­port of my cam­paign. The polit­i­cal mes­sages involved in your work have encour­aged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a pro­found effect on peo­ple, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am priv­i­leged to be a part of your art­work and proud to have your support.

— Barack Obama, February 22, 2008

The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most effi­ca­cious American polit­i­cal illus­tra­tion since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You.’”

Shepard Fairey is also an accom­plished DJ and prod­uct designer.  He has worked with the likes of Chuck D (of Public Enemy) and friend Z-Trip, and DJ’s under the name DJ Diabetic and Emcee Insulin (refer­ring to the fact that Fairey is liv­ing with Diabetes). His OBEY Giant cloth­ing is sold at Nordstrom depart­ment stores.

Needless to say, this is an excit­ing exhi­bi­tion to hit Cincinnati. Shepard Fairey stands to be the Warhol of his gen­er­a­tion (known affec­tion­ately in the media as Generation X). His for­ti­eth birth­day was the day after Valentines Day, a very snowy Monday in Cincinnati, and we are pretty jazzed that he spends this time here with us.

The Opening Party is free to the pub­lic at the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

It will begin at 8pm, Friday, February 19, fol­low­ing the Artist’s lec­ture at 7pm.  Fairey will be spin­ning a DJ set for the event.  It promises to be quite an evening to be in Cincinnati.

Limited-edition CAC poster

To com­mem­o­rate the open­ing the CAC will be releas­ing a hot, exclu­sive screen print poster edi­tion. Edition lim­ited to 450, Signed and Numbered, and only avail­able at the CAC.

For More infor­ma­tion please visit

Supply and Demand: 20 Year Retrospective
February 20, 2010 – August 22, 2010, Cincinnati, Ohio

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