Spain v. Shepard Faiery: The Throwdown in Fishtown!

Lauren Cassady Removing Graffiti

Lauren Cassady Removing Graffiti

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Local Street Artist Spain hit the Shepard Fairey “mural” in Fishtown back in January, and shortly after that the piece started to get cleaned up. Local art conservator Lauren Cassady began cleaning and restoring the piece not long afterwards, and wrapped up work not too long ago.

From the moment word got out and through the entire restoration process, a debate raged on about the entire event. Were the streets giving their opinion about the once-infamous street artist not only going legit but big time being a mockery to the essence of what they thought Street Art was? Was the action simply a rouge action?

The reaction, according to Lauren, has been largely positive:

Also, I have been approached, both on the street and online, by several active street artists/bombers, who support me fully. The subculture has a well defined set of mores and standards, and these artists, the local ones especially, want to beat the shit out of this “spain” guy. Basically, they tell me that a “toy” bombed a “king”, a huge non-no in that world. It just doesn’t happen without repercussion in that community.

I’ve stated it time and time again since I started this blog with Pipelines: We are still relatively new to this. We don’t know the full extent of the truth, and we also don’t know what the general reaction is from the streets. I tend to try and stay neutral.

Shepard Fairey’s murals have come under fire since he started having them commissioned. The reasons have ranged anywhere between him being a sellout, unoriginal, and just going against the reason street art even exists. At the same time, he’s been praised or being such a talented artist and bringing interesting art to the masses.

The argument for the piece is that not only is it essentially a commissioned mural, the tag would have been cleaned up no matter what. The fact that Lauren is doing it in order to preserve the original wheat pasting is better than just painting over it and trying to replicate it. The argument can easily be made that is someone did this to a Bansky they would be run out of town, which I’m pretty sure is true. That said, there is as reason that people respect and love Bansky in a way Shepard isn’t, and it isn’t something easy to explain.

So where does the truth lie? Did Spain cross the line, or did Shepard get what was coming to him?

I’m leaving it up to you, the readers of this blog, to make the decision. We’ll post the best comments Friday.

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5 Responses to Spain v. Shepard Faiery: The Throwdown in Fishtown!

  1. R2F!

    Spain is a well known writer. at least to me he is. I've seen his work when out was out in cali, new york, philly, and in a few parts of new jersey.

  2. Markese The Mop

    i wouldn't call Spain a toy… like R2F said, he's a pretty well known writer. I also don't think i would call Shepard Fairey a "King." The fact is, shit gets buffed, so ur opinions are irrelevant. The opinion I am curious about is Spain's. I'd be interested to hear what his beef is with Shepard Fairey. I wonder if it is more than just the obvious…

  3. The Golden Boy

    Shepard and Banksy are both lame. Thank god Philadelphia has people who see through the bullshit willing to know when someone is trying to sell them something and dressing it up like art.

    This shit is the exact opposite of keeping it real.

  4. DëthMöusë

    I feel compelled to ask, Golden Boy… isn't the fact that they make people smile and interested in Street Art in the first place a good thing?

    Personally, I'm highly-inspired by Banksy and his work and he's part of the reason why I got into this stuff and started the blog.

  5. Anonymous

    spain beat me to the punch i was eyeing up obey's jawn on 4th and reed but never caught it at a good time. fuck that trendy lookin shit, making the yuppies happier in my home is the last thing i would want any "street art" to do.

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