Shepard Fairey may deserve big-deal museum retrospectives, but Deep Ellumgallery Public Trust brings his art to everyone
Best known for post Russian constructivist-influenced works that pair political commentary with pop culture iconography, Shepard Fairey became famous for his 2008 “Hope” poster for the Obama campaign – an image that ultimately led to a legal battle with the Associated Press. That matter resulted in a $25,000 fine and two years of probation for the artist.
Fairey’s local profile has grown recently with a series of murals commissioned in February 2012 by the Dallas Contemporary, but he’s actually had a presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the start of the new millennium. The Public Trust gallery owner Brian Gibb, who currently is mounting a retrospective print show of Fairey’s works at his Deep Ellum gallery, was self-publishing a cutting-edge arts and culture magazine called Art Prostitute in Denton when he first encountered Fairey and his graffiti- and pop art-influenced work.
“I met him in Austin in 2003 in passing,” Gibb recalls. “We ended up conducting this crazy long interview for the second issue. It was a time when he really wasn’t that well-known, but things started to take off for him, and that trickled down to us.”
The Dallas exhibition is a rare opportunity for collectors to have access to a broad range of Fairey’s work from different stages of his career, at a (relatively) affordable price.
When the next issue of Art Prostitute hit the stands, it was encased in Fairey’s instantly recognizable Andre the Giant “OBEY” slipcovers, and the duo had established a collaborative relationship that culminates in the Printed Matters exhibition that opens today and runs through October 20.
Similar in focus to Fairey’s 2010 Printed Matters show in Los Angeles, the Dallas exhibition is a rare opportunity for collectors to have access to a broad range of the artist’s work from different stages of his career, at a (relatively) affordable price. In lieu of paintings – which can start around $45,000 – Printed Matters highlights silkscreens on wood, metal and paper ranging from $2,700 to $9.500 for a 29-by-44 mixed-media collage. Tongue-in-cheek slogans and pop culture profiles share space with cityscapes accented with Fairey’s iconic “OBEY” giant.
At this stage in his career, Fairey may merit expansive museum retrospectives, but bringing art to everyone is still important for a man whose work has been described as “political art with a strong sense of … emotional authenticity.”
“Smaller shows offer him an opportunity to exhibit in new markets and with smaller galleries,” Gibb says. “Showing prints on wood, metal and paper is democratic and acceptable, and that’s important for him.”