In some ways, it is not surprising. When people find success, other people get angry. They label those who are riding high "fakers" and "poseurs" and "pretenders" and other dismissive things. But even I'm surprised by the level of virtriol extended toward Shepard Fairey. I know graffiti. I see it everyday. It's spray paint on the side of the Trader Joe's near by house. Or a street sign defaced by profanity. Or a big, fat billboard I can't do anything to avoid. But is it this?
Tell you what. I don't know why Shepard Fairey was arrested as he was walking into a giant party at the Institute of Contemporary Art, a party he was expected to star at. I wonder why he wasn't arrested on City Hall when he was standing next to the Mayor. Or at his hotel room. Or over a latte this morning. But in a city that's been less than friendly toward public art and, some would say, to artists themselves, it's interesting to note the timing on the arrest.
I'll let the comments on Boston.com speak for themselves. Most of them seem to be angry, politically-inspired and simple-minded. But I appreciated this one, left by somebody named Max Augenblick.
"Amazing level of hatred and anger in Boston! Shepard Fairey has never spray painted or vandalized buildings in the way these comments state. What stake do any of you have in this issue or its outcome? This artist is known for his generosity of spirit and humanity, and many people working in good faith have worked hard to bring his show to Boston. The police have a beef with the mayor and are hitting an artist! That's a new one. It is truly astonishing the level of negativity toward someone who has invented a new way to get us to think about the imagery all around us. Accusing Shepard of vandalism is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500."