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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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