I grew up in downtown Charleston and I always found inspiration in the historical architecture even if I found some of the conservative attitudes stifling. To have my murals going up around these historic and beautiful neighborhoods is amazing. I’m grateful to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and the Cultural Affairs Department of Charleston for supporting me because I think public art and street art are still controversial. I was arrested in Charleston in 1996 and it’s exciting that I’m back doing a show at the Halsey and having the support of the local art community.
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Jasper Johns is one of my all-time favorite artists, so it is an incredible honor to show alongside him. I think that the work I created for the show has some connection to works Johns did utilizing the iconography of Americana. The timing of this joint show is serendipitous because a lot of my work was moving in the direction of addressing the pros and cons of power, glory, and America. This show with the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art amplified my focus on the decline of the “American Dream.” Showing with the Halsey for the second time is great because they championed my work when I was far less established, and I like to be loyal to those who have supported me. I also think it’s a great opportunity to show how my work has evolved in the last dozen or so years. This exhibition also reveals how attitudes in Charleston have evolved about street art. When I showed in Charleston in 2001, my street art activities were a subject of controversy. This time around, I’ve been allowed to do large painted murals in amazing places. Since Charleston is my hometown, I also get to hang with my parents and old friends.
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I was recently interviewed by Vibe about my collaboration with Hennessy. As an artist, I look to collaborate with brands in a way that incubates the culture I love. Hennessy is a well respected brand with a quality product, ethos, and legacy so I knew that they would showcase my work in an awesome way. I did a lot of research about the history of Hennessy and I felt like the sophistication and the quality of the brand is something I’m honored to be associated with. Street art is free, but I also embrace the idea that art and commerce need each other, and can relate symbiotically rather than in conflict.
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This explanation of my Empire State of Mind print may sound familiar, because it shares the same theme with my Oil & Gas Building print. The print is inspired by, but not based on, the Empire State Building.
Industrial power has been a point of pride in America since the early 20th century, and many impressively iconic, if monolithic, architectural landmarks have been erected as symbols of industrial and American dominance. The Chrysler building, the General Electric building, the Sears Tower, and the Empire State Building come to mind. Dominant industrial forces may build great monuments to their success, but those physical manifestations of their power and ego often correlate to the dangerously disproportionate influence they have on politics and policy. America has had an empire state of mind for the last 100 plus years, but the dangers of thinking the world is ours to dominate and plunder are staring us in the face. The flame on top of this building is not a torch of glory, but a fire of reckless over-consumption This Empire State of Mind print is about the volatility of giving an industry with too much power the ability to manipulate politics in its favor despite the dangers to the environment and climate change. The situation is going to blow up in our faces metaphorically, and already has for too many people literally as well (remember the BP explosion and spill?). A lot of people freaked out that the Obama administration lost taxpayers about $600 million by investing in Solyndra, a solar panel company developing a new technology, which went bankrupt. However, few people seem upset that the U.S. government gives approximately $25 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to the highly profitable oil and gas industries. The Solyndra investment did not work out, but the need to fund new, renewable technologies, should be obvious when the rapidly depleting oil and gas sources become more difficult and dangerous to extract each passing day. The only reason the government subsidies are so disproportionate is because of the massive power the dying oil and gas industry still has.
The Oil & Gas industry, which includes multi-national and independent oil and gas producers and refiners, natural gas pipeline companies, gasoline service stations and fuel oil dealers, has long enjoyed a history of strong influence in Washington. Individuals and political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle, 75 percent of which has gone to Republicans.
Though oil is finite, our reliance on it is so extreme that the power wielded by those who control oil is virtually unlimited. Oil and gas companies and the car manufacturers who profit heavily from gas powered engines used their power and influence to overturn a zero emissions law in the state of California, effectively delaying electric cars arriving on the market accessibly for 10 plus years. It is dangerous for an industry to have that much power.
We need to cultivate renewable alternatives, and for the sake of the future, we need to push the government to support the developers of new technologies rather than subsidizing old fossil fuel models moving toward obsolescence.
Check out this article on the political influence of the Oil & Gas industry – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/06/how-the-oil-lobby-greases_n_845720.html
Thanks for caring.
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I am honored to have sat in the same garage that Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Russell Brand, and many others have before me to speak with Marc Maron for the WTF Podcast. It was a great conversation which you can hear TODAY on WTFpod.com!
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To celebrate Jim Muir’s induction into The National Skateboarding Hall of Fame will be releasing our remaining stock of Collaboration Skate Decks along with a few new colorways Thursday May 15th at 10am in Collectibles . Click here for images and details.
My friend Jim Muir is being inducted into The National Skateboarding Hall of Fame alongside legends Steve Olson, Lance Mountain, and Natas Kaupas. I started skateboarding and listening to punk rock 30 years ago. I’ve been a Dogtown fan for a long time and I vividly remember the Muir brothers featured together in Thrasher Magazine in the 80’s. In 2009 my friend Glen E. Friedman let me know about Jim’s accident and neck injury and asked if I’d collaborate with him on a portrait of Jim to raise money for his medical expenses. Jim later asked if I’d be interested in putting the art I’d made based on Glen’s photo on a run of boards and of course I loved the idea. Jim did an amazing job selecting the wood, building the shapes, airbrushing, hand screening, and lacquering the boards. The boards are all signed by Jim, Glen, and me. I’m very proud and grateful to be a part of this project. Congrats to Jim and the entire 2014 class of Skateboard Hall of Famers!
“Skateboarding opened the world up to me. Through it I have enjoyed a world of community and relationships that continue today. It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers and be Inducted into The Skateboarding Hall Of Fame 2014 class. To be included with my friends Steve Olson, Lance Mountain, and Natas Kaupas in the 2014 Induction is a recognition to celebrate and give homage to my fellow 2014 Hall of Famers!”
– Jim “Red Dog” Muir
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Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Art Truancy, a group exhibition celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Juxtapoz Magazine. The exhibition will take place in both locations of Jonathan LeVine Gallery (557C W 23rd Street and 529 W 20th Street) in Chelsea, and will feature works by Shepard and more than forty other artists, including: Alex Gross, Alex Pardee, Andrew Schoultz, Brett Amory, Camille Rose Garcia, Chloe Early, Conor Harrington, Doze Green, Faile, Jeremy Fish, Marion Peck, Mark Ryden, Maya Hayuk, Miss Van, Neckface, Parra, Pushead, Robert Williams, Saner, Seonna Hong, Swoon, Thomas Campbell, Todd James, Todd Schorr, and many more.
If you’re in New York, go check out Shepard’s piece alongside all the other amazing works!
May 15—June 14, 2014
Public Opening Reception: Thursday, May 15, 2014
557C West 23rd Street: 6—8pm
529 West 20th Street: 7—9pm
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My friend and collaborator, photographer Dennis Morris, gives a great behind-the scenes explanation of his photographs of Bob Marley in his recent BOB MARLEY: GIANT show. Hearing the inside stories on these iconic photos is fantastic. Dennis was also kind enough to reflect on the painting I made of Bob based on one of his images, Check it out! -Shepard