Shepard Fairey Rings in May Day in NYC


Although Shepard Fairey hasn’t been given the key to New York City, he’s taking over as much property as he can seize on his Big Apple visit. Six murals, related to his May Day exhibition at Deitch Projects, have surfaced in the past week — and we have an inkling that the “Obey” master isn’t done yet. Like what he did in Venice during the Biennale last summer and Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach in December, Fairey is getting the best bang for his buck when he knows that the art world’s powers-that-be are traversing the streets.

With his exhibition May Day being the final show at Deitch Projects and the contemporary art auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury taking place this month, Fairey is poised to continue his ascent to art-world royalty.

Fairey’s main mural is at Houston and the Bowery, in the spot made famous by Keith Haring in the early-‘80s. Jeffrey Deitch resurrected the space with the help of art collector and real estate mogul Tony Goldman, who owns the property. But according to recent reports, Fairey is fighting to maintain it, as graffiti artists are bombing it to challenge his authority. Two more walls have been installed at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, while up in the Bronx, Fairey collaborated with graf-artist Cope2 on a layered outdoor piece, which looks so good that it may just invite more spray paint on his other projects.

Among those other projects are a massive, vertical mural going up outside the Cooper Square Hotel at Bowery and East 5th Street and an 80-foot piece covering the plywood wrapping at the Ace Hotel at the corner of Broadway and 29th Street. Meanwhile, the show at Deitch Projects, which is the main reason for this flurry of action by the artist, doesn’t wow us with the jpgs, but we have the feeling that it will when we finally see it. If the opening is anything like Ryan McGinley’s recent reception at Team Gallery, which is right around the corner, get there early before the authorities intervene, and even Fairey is forced to obey.

Shepard Fairey: “May Day” is on view at New York’s Deitch Projects May 1-24, while his pop-up shop, with goods for the common man, opens at 151 Orchard Street on April 30 and shutters on May 16.

All images by Shepard Fairey, courtesy of Deitch Projects.