I was searching around Center City for some awesome photos of Philly Street art when you can only imagine my shock when I saw SPAIN had hit up the building around the Pennsylvania Convention Center!
Spain is easily one of the most daring artists I’ve come across, and to a large degree the intrigue comes from his targets. We’ve covered Spain in the past, and really I wish we could find more of his work! So if you’re ever in the area, look up and around! You may find something you never did before!
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.