Friday, August 6, 2010
The employees of Urban Outfitters in Hillcrest arrived to work early this morning to discover the mural on the side of their building - by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey - tagged with blue spray paint. The mural was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego as part of their street art exhibit, "Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape." Close to 50% of that exhibition includes works in the public sphere. In other words, unprotected on the streets of San Diego.
Pedro Alonzo co-curated the exhibit. He says, "in the past when Shepard's work has been attacked, it was often by those who were unhappy with the content, like seeing an Arab woman with an AK-47. This seems to be an artist just looking for attention. There doesn't seem to be a statement being made."
Jamie McDermott is a display artist at Urban Outfitters and a graffiti artist who has been enjoying the mural as he comes to work. He says he was blown away when he saw the tag this morning. "I've done graffiti for years and - of course all art is temporary - but you don't go over someone if you can't add to it. That [the tag] is not even art."
Alonzo emphasizes that the mural and the other work by street artists currently up on walls throughout the city is art. "However people feel about this genre, it is art. There's a reason why it's in this show and it's part of a public project. We went through a lot of trouble to get it up." Fairey worked on the Hillcrest mural for four days.
Alonzo says this is part of what happens when you leave the controlled environment of the museum or gallery space. "But this looks like someone trying to gain attention by being a parasite, feeding off the host."
As of 10:30 this morning, Alonzo had not yet told Shepard Fairey. He was going to send him an email as soon as we got off the phone.