Rise Above Famous Street Artist Shepard Fairey Doin Dallas

By: Allison Hibbs

For the first time in 10 years, Shepard Fairey is in Dallas! Invited by the non-profit art forum, Dallas Contemporary, as part of their Citywide Street Project, he is leaving his signature mark on buildings around the city. A graphic artist and old-school skateboarder, Fairey is probably best known in the mainstream for his 2008 poster depicting a stylized version of then-presidential candidate, Barack Obama, along with the single word: Hope.

Among those familiar with the street art movement, however, Fairey – with his Andre the Giant logo featuring the word ‘Obey’ – has long been iconic of the pioneering work that he and others have done to legitimize the subculture as an accepted, if often politically subversive and irreverent, art form. Along with Basquiat in the 80s and later artists such as world-famous anonymous prankster, Bansky, street artists like Fairey have elevated graffiti into a meaningful form of expression, rebellion and catharsis in the United States, across Europe and in Australia.

Movies such as “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a documentary made by the elusive Banksy and featuring work by Fairey, chronicle the progression, techniques and motivations behind this growing movement. (Although many consider the film to be another one of Bansky’s pranks, Fairey and the film’s central character, Thierry Guetta, deny all such accusations.)  Put simply, the goal of these artists is two-fold: to make use of and beautify unused, often unsightly, urban spaces, and to make people stop and think as they go about the usual business of their days. Many dedicated street artists work uncompromisingly (and often under the cover of night) to realize these goals. Of course, they also seem to have a good deal of fun in the process.

In the wake of chaos caused by Wall Street in 2007, Banksy pieces started showing up around New York City depicting his iconic rat (an anagram for ‘art’), which showed the artist’s obvious distain for the moral bankruptcy of those who were the architects of the financial disaster.

Obama poster notwithstanding, much of Fairey’s work tends to be less overtly political – necessitating individual thought and introspection – although several are obvious admonishments against war and global warming. Lately, he has even come out in support of the nationwide movement known as Occupy with an image of Guy Fawkes that plays off of his ’08 Hope poster. What, according to Fairey, began as a fun project to entertain college friends has evolved into an art form aimed at shaking people out of their passive acceptance of societal norms.

Working with the local street art collective, Sour Grapes, Fairey had completed four murals as of Feb. 3 in two locations in West Dallas. Dallas Contemporary has indicated that he will do at least eight more before he leaves, at least one of which is to be located in the area known as Deep Ellum. Three of the murals are located at 331 and 340 Singleton Blvd., near I-30 and I-35E in West Dallas. Another adorns the side of Dallas Contemporary, at 161 Glass Street, where Fairey has also been invited to guest DJ at a sold-out  “neon-inspired dance party” on the night of Saturday, Feb. 4. If these murals have a theme, he told the Dallas Observer, “It’s peace and harmony.” The woman in two of the murals, he says, is his wife.

A bus tour been organized for Saturday, Feb. 11, which is to include stops at the murals and a studio visit with Sour Grapes, as well as visits to exhibits at Dallas Contemporary featuring Rob Pruitt, David Jablonowski and Failure. Tickets are limited and can be purchased online.

Carsten Holler Exhibit at New York’s New Museum Turns Art into Interactive Fun

Written By: Catherine Wolinski

Last October, the New Museum in New York City presented Carsten Holler: Experience, the first New York survey of works by Carsten Holler, a German scientist-turned-artist who resides in Stockholm, Sweden. The exhibition, which will be open until Jan. 15, transforms multiple galleries into a world of research experimentation crossed with childhood fun. A firm believer in utilizing the architecture of the building where his art, its space, and its viewers will interact, the collection even includes a 102-foot slide that patrons can ride from the fourth to the second floors of the building.

Born in Brussels in 1961, Holler left his career as a scientist in 1993 to instead apply his knowledge and lab experience to

Carsten Holler: Experience slide installation at the New Museum

artistic concepts. Exploring themes such as safety, love, and doubt, Holler presents scenarios that force museum and museum goer into a conversation, connecting visitors to the environments he creates. By engaging the building as well as its inhabitants, Holler sends each person into multiple roles as they pass through each section of the exhibit, where they are faced with innovative structures, scenes, and tasks. Visitors are both the watchers and the watched as they make their way through the Experience Corridor, a stretch of space scattered with thought provoking activities that bring into question the conventional understandings of space, time and self.

By way of his participatory installations, Holler challenges human perception and logic by igniting, and perhaps overwhelming, the senses with interactive experiences.  Using the architecture of the building to map out these sensory events, Holler engages viewers with

The Mirror Carousel by Carsten Holler

the works of the past eighteen years of his career, chronicling numerous ventures that push the limits of human sensory perception. Such works include the untitled slide installation, which he describes as an “alternative transportation system,” Double Light Corner, a disorienting light installation that gives the impression the room is flipping back and forth, Mirror Carousel, a full-size swing merry-go-round that reflects and illuminates the space around it as it turns almost imperceptively, and finally, Psycho Tank, a “sensory deprivation pool” which literally puts the viewer into a pool—stripped naked—for a mind-altering out-of-body experience.

Carston Holler: Experience employs multiple disciplines to destabilize and reinvent viewers’ knowledge of the world around them, and how they fit into it. By using the scientific method in conjunction with his futurist design, Holler’s art forces viewers to see, feel, and understand art and space in a new way.

The North Dakota Museum of Art Roars

"Animals, Then and Now"

Lions, and tiger, and bears…oh my!!!  The North Dakota Museum of Art is bringing them to life through an extraordinary touring exhibit, “Animals, Now and Then”.  The museum features artists’ works in the form of captivating video, stunning photography, numerous paintings, and sculpture.  This contemporary exhibit highlights the work of twenty artists from across North and South America, and was put together by Museum Director, Laurel Rueter

The art that has been assembled paints a picture of the complexities of the animal kingdom, and reminds us that we (humans) are but one of the nearly 10 million species of animals inhabiting this planet.  The exhibit reveals contrasting points-of-views and conflicting visions of life.  The North Dakota Museum of Art, through their careful selection of pieces, has assembled an interesting and unique showing.

This is a worthwhile exhibit for any of us, but students in particular are encouraged to take a tour.  Schools within a 50 mile radius are eligible for reimbursement for the cost, so no excuses.  The North Dakota Museum of Art has painstakingly put together this amazing exhibit for our enjoyment and appreciation.  Take a walk on the wild side!

Washington D.C. Adds A Splash Of Color

Niki de Saint Phalle Sculpture

Washington D.C. is in for an eye-opening, splash of color, as the National Museum of Woman in the Arts prepares to unveil a vibrant display of sculpture along New York Avenue.  The, larger-than-life fiberglass figures are the works of the late French sculptor, Niki de Saint Phalle, and promise to liven up this stretch of road. 

The project features four scenes, with sculptures up to 15 feet high, in vibrant hues that are sure to cause a stir.  The museum hopes to create renewed interest and desire to expand this area of town.  The intent is to decorate five major strips into sculpture islands.  The entire project will take 5 years to complete and will run from 13th street to 9th street, giving some unique character to this, otherwise dull area.

This contemporary art project will feature only woman artists, and will change and transform regularly.  The National Museum of Woman in the Arts is raising their glass, in a big way, by showcasing these pieces.

Washington’s culture isn’t exactly hip and new and this will add a fresh touch to the monuments in place.  These first sculptures will feature robust woman in bathing suits and even a depiction of basketball legend, Michael Jordan. 

The city is totally behind the project and welcomes the exhibit with open arms.  Wanting to update the overall impression of D.C. is driving this enthusiasm, and the hope is that the public responds with excitement. 

For more of  Niki de Saint Phalle works check out the Stravinsky Fountain located in Paris, or just walk down the, newly adorned streets of Washington D.C.

Van Gogh Art Exhibit

van gogh

Van Gogh…new? Well, you probably don’t think so, since his tragic suicide in 1890, but London’s Royal Academy of Art is shedding some new light on this renowned artist. Van Gogh once said “For my part I know nothing with certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream”…and dream he did, leaving behind incredibly beautiful paintings, rich with color and texture. His current exibition gives a deeper insight into his life, his passions, and his personality.

Van Gogh’s works have not been exhibited to the public in over 40 years, and this showing called “The Real Van Gogh” allows us to see Van Gogh the man, as well as the artist. He was a marvelous letter-writer, and many of his personal letters to friends are on display. As Van Gogh would often write about his works, the letters give the public his unique perspective of the progress he was making, what was inspiring him, and believe it or not, his insecurities. Yes, this legendary artist, who’s works will live on forever, suffered from the same self-doubt we all have felt…amazing. Lucky for us, Mr. Van Gogh ploughed through those issues, going on to create masterpieces such as “Starry Night”, “Irisies”, and the forever famous “Sunflowers”.

Van Gogh didn’t start painting til he was 27 years old, and in his relatively short life, created more than 2000 paintings and drawings. We all know who Vincent Van Gogh “is”…but, if you get a chance to tour London’s Royal Academy of Art, before April 2010…you just might get to know who he “was”.  What a treat!