ARTmonday: Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand

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A few weeks ago I went to the press preview for the Shepard Fairey show at the ICA. I normally wouldn’t have gone – street art isn’t my thing. (Big surprise.) But I had an assignment for Lola magazine on the museum, and the timing worked out perfectly.

The overall museum experience, as always, was bliss. The vast white space, the expanse of glass overlooking the Boston Harbor on a snowy day. There was even swag – a Shepard Fairey tote. What’s not to like? The art.

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To be fair, as an exhibit, it was aesthetically pleasing. Very orderly, graphic and color consistent. It’s all carefully manufactured, so expect nothing less.

As for the images on their own, after seeing a few, they’re all pretty much the same. Here’s the “now iconic” (as they never tire of saying) Obama portrait, and an amusing depiction of his charming predecessor:

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Fairey’s into images of other iconic, political, controversial, famous for being famous folk, like Andy Warhol, Mao, Lenin, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and of course André the Giant, whose image he displayed on a homemade sticker in ’88 as a student at RISD. He also fawns over music personalities; the exhibit includes portraits of Jim Morrison, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Joan Jett, and David Bowie.

He said that morning: “I create portraits of people who made a very strong impact on me, but whom I am not necessarily aligned with.”

Fairey seems pretty chill, but it’s hard to tell. For a guy who’s become known for street art, i.e., graffiti, and who is constantly arrested, he’s also a corporate enterprise, with a thriving graphic design enterprise, plus a wife and kids. I can appreciate the graphic design and business aspect of his persona. The “artist” side, I’m not convinced.

The enormous murals in the exhibit are give more of a sense of a person behind the work. He says he works (or at least used to work) on sheets of old wallpaper. You can see the layers of the patterns, the newspaper, the ink. Here are a couple of details from larger works:

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As a museum-worthy artist, I’m not sold. But now that I’m in on it, it’s fun to see the works plastered around the city. There’s a few on the side of a building at the ramp onto the Mass Pike at Mass Ave. and Newbury that I noticed immediately after attending the preview. The ICA is actually organizing bike tours around the city to see the on site works. You can see them on Flikr too. That’s probably all you really need.

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Site Spotlight: Abode7

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The other day at jury duty , while I was conscientiously reading last month’s Dwell on prefab housing (I’m doing a piece on an amazing prefab in Maine), to kill time, I studied the little ads in the back of the book. I came upon a cute ad for Abode7. This morning I checked it out, and it’s worth a look.

It’s a decent mix of transitional furniture and accessories, blending trendy accessories, like Thomas Paul pillows and Dwell bedding, with more subtle staples, like eight different styles of sisal rugs.

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The furniture is along the lines of Crate & Barrel in terms of style and price, with a whole bunch of upholstery options that are so-so. While much of it was too traditional for my taste, I found some simple silhouettes to consider, like the Nolan Cane Back Slipper Chair, especially at its sale price of $519. And the Asian-influenced pistachio curved stool, for $180.

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If you’re into bamboo and grass shades, there are about 30 different styles, and there’s also drapery, both custom and ready made. A lot of it is awful (Trudy Plaid Drapery, ick!) but the Moroccan Palace and South Beach patterns have potential.

They also offer a bunch of fabrics by the yard if you’re a DIY-er. A lot of it is eh (again with the hideous pastel plaids), but there’s a zebra linen, Thomas Paul look-a-like florals,and graphic trellis patterns.

So, while you’re not going to get any major inspiration here, Abode7 is a good site to poke around for basics, like well-priced non-trendy sofas, accessories, and such.


Get the Look: Indian Inspired Accessories

I’m lured by the look. It’s pretty, easy, exotic. Chances are, besides my thesis of yesteryear (on the oh-so practical topic of the cross-dressing between Krishna and Radha in Rajasthani miniature paintings),  you probably won’t find an ethnic accoutrement in my house. (We tend toward the starkly modern these days.) But I really do love the lush patterns and intense color combinations.

As for your decor, don’t by shy. Add color and layers with Indian motifs of lotus leaves, sultans, and scrolls to achieve a look decidedly Indienne. Pillows, duvets, and throws add immediate spice to a room. If you’re feeling incredibly smitten, consider dhurries, hand-blocked wall coverings, an airy canopy bed, elaborately carved doors, or inlaid end tables. Here are a few fanciful, yet refined, furnishings with which to Indian-ize your surroundings.

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Buying Guide

Carved Tibari Triple Arch, $6,995 at Shikara Design.
Bedlam Wallpaper by Osborne & Little at Walnut Wallpaper.
Handcarved Sandstone Statue of Shiva, $99, Shikara Design.
Leaf Wallpaper in Blue by Katie Ridder at Katie Ridder.
Coptic Pillow by Koko Company, $116 at PillowsandThrows.com.
Lotus Flower Nesting Bowls, $95 at Koo de Kir, Boston.
Anglo-Indian Ivory Inlaid Dressing Mirror from Burden & Izett Ltd at 1st Dibs.
Saltarello Wool Crewelwork Rug, $78.00-$1,098.00 at Anthropologie.
Attendants Wallpaper in Purple by Katie Ridder at Katie Ridder.
Cotton Canvas Ganesh Pillow by Koko Company, $86.40 at The Modern Pad.
Table with Mother of Pearl & Bone Inlay, $6,750, Suzanne Golden Antiques at 1st Dibs.

ARTmonday: Lee Essex: Postcards From India

As long as I’m on this whole Indian theme, I thought I’d show you a collection of gorgeous paintings by Boston-based artist Lee Essex. (She is represented by Peter Marcelle Contemporary in NYC and Southampton, as well as Parker Gallery, St. Simons Island, GA.) The show, entitled “Postcards from India,” celebrates the rich visual impressions of Indian temples and palaces in Rajasthan. Essex does drawings on site, and works from those in her Beacon Hill studio. The mixed media pieces are lush combinations of ink, watercolor, charcoal, colored pencil, tempera, and oil pastels on paper, with layers of patterns achieved with wood blocks and stencils that Essex makes herself. Essex also takes many photographs during her travels, which she uses as inspiration, along with incense and sBangara music, which helps set the mood. I’m practically transported . . .

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Images: Peter Marcelle Contemporary 50 East 72nd Street, NYC and 36 Hampton Road Southampton, NY.

Get the Look: More Grey & Green Wallpaper (Because I Am Obsessive)

Here’s another batch. Next thing you know I’ll be off grey and green and onto some other color scheme. But with any luck, I will order a few samples and make a decision. Post your opinions, please.

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Wallpaper Pattern Names

Row 1: Osborne & Little Volte Face; Osborne & Little Volte Face; Madison & Grow Eloise.

Row 2: Tres Tintas Barcelona Pajaros; Romo Kenazan; Flavor Paper Huton.

Row 3: Design Your Wall Custom Bamboo; Design Your Wall White & Silver Mylar Geometric Squares; Jocelyn Warner ?.

Row 4: Ferm Living, Wild Flower; Design Your Wall Custom Brown & Green Floral Vines; Romo Simonii.

Row 5: Graham & Brown, Bittern Feather; Graham & Brown, Chrysanthemum; Anderson Como Arts & Crafts Ogee.

Row 6: Graham & Brown Beauty Amethyst Modern; Tres Tintas Barcelona, Pajaros; Anderson Leaf Sprig.

Resources for papers shown here:
AndersonPrints.com
DesignYourWall.com
WalnutWallpaper.com

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