Giant Foes

Most readers of this paper know that Shepard Fairey — the creator of the now global exercise in phenomenology and viral street art known as OBEY GIANT — is a Charleston boy. Fairey’s been operating in San Francisco for several years, but he still runs with a pack of Charleston artists that includes John Pundt and recent expat kindred soul Kevin Taylor. Fairey’s been making headlines in the art world for years both for his street art, which evokes regular comparisons to British-based satirical street artist Banksy, and his graphic design work (you’ll recall the poster for Walk the Line, for example).

These days, Fairey’s making the papers for a different reason: His work’s been the target of an anonymous defacement campaign in New York City in which more than 20 of his murals and wheat-pasted street posters have been vandalized with splashes of paint. Last week, The New York Times even reported on the underground war when a youth was arrested at Fairey’s June 24 opening in the Jonathan Levine Gallery for trying to set off a stink bomb at the packed event. Whether the 24-year-old was aligned with the “splashers” or not is still unknown; he ain’t talking. But at a reception at the gallery later in the week, a group of attendees handed out 16-page manifestos with photos of all the Fairey art defacements and a ranting, bombastic essay that excoriated, often in arcane language, Fairey and similar artists. “Don’t worry,” it ends. “You’ll hear from us again.”

Hey, any press is good press, right?—Patrick Sharbaugh

More Artistic Wining

Something tells us the Charleston Food + Wine Festival is not looking for any such controversy with their 2008 poster competition, open through Fri. Sept. 7. The culinary fest is still eight months away, but organizers feel it’s never too early to start pimping for the annual gig, which celebrates our city’s foodie history and culture. The winning poster design earns its maker $1,000 and the honor of being pasted across scads of peninsular storefronts and virtually every piece of merch associated with the festival. Any tri-county resident 18 or over is free to submit original works for the contest. Designs “should reflect Charleston’s rich culinary history and exciting food scene, while featuring attributes that would aptly reflect the festival.” Artists are also asked to incorporate into the design the Fest’s signature wine stain, similar to the one that has appeared on past posters. (Aha, so that’s what it is.) For more info, check out —Jillian Stephenson