Tag Archives: obey giant

Obey in Oakland.

obey giant, sheppard fairy, downtown oakland obey giant, 14th street obey giant

So above is one of the first photos I snapped after putting my blog on hold. I took it in August. I was on my way to a work meeting and was running late, so I just snapped this one first pic, which was unfortunate because by the time I went back to take a few more shots (a couple weeks later, see below) the large wheatpaste installation by Shepard Fairey had already been tagged.

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Ultimately, some local folks involved in a street beautification project painted over the damaged lower portions and it now looks like this… I shot this last one on the day of the initial raid of the Occupy Oakland  encampment.  Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the Oaktown love that day…

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OBEY in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam may not be the birthplace of the Renaissance (that honor is most commonly attributed to Florence, Italy), but the centuries old city certainly experienced a revitalization of epic proportions during the 17th century, considered it’s “Golden Age.” The city was known as a center for Europe’s free press, and also a bastion of religious tolerance. And as Europe’s most important shipping center, it became the wealthiest city in the world (as well as its financial center). In the early part of this century, when immigration was at its peak, the city developed its current canal system of 4 concentric half-circles, which remains essentially intact, hundreds of years later.

Subsequent centuries saw declines in Amsterdam, both in wealth and population (not unlike the plight of Oakland, albeit much later in the 20th century, post WWII).

When we emerged from the Amsterdam Central train station near our short-term apartment, this is what the station looked like…

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And a huge Shepard Fairey installation was set up on some temporary construction walls right outside…

I’m in heaven!!!

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Stickem’ Up!

So I think the first time I even noticed sticker art, really noticed it… I mean, had an image stuck in my mind (no pun intended) and thought about it long afterwards, was during the Obey Giant campaign in the early 90’s, which made its way all the way to San Francisco from its origination in Providence, Rhode Island.  I had seen the stickers, stuck everywhere, for years.  It wasn’t until my friend Zak asked me if I knew what they were about, that I realized I had just assumed that “Obey Giant” was the name of a band and that these were promotional stickers for some rock group.  It had never crossed my mind that these might be art, and that the artist might be promoting something different than merchandise or an event…

As everyone now knows, Obey Giant was the creation of Shepard Fairey who achieved mass recognition and mainstream notoriety last year with his indelible incarnation of Barack Obama in red and shades of blue.  We’ve all seen it.  Fairey’s image became the publicly-but-not-politically-endorsed campaign image, and subsequently became the subject of a lawsuit regarding ownership rights of the original photographic portrait of Obama that Shepard used as his basis..  But I digress…

We were talking about stickers.

The Obey Giant stickers paired the word “Obey” with a graphic image of Andre the Giant, in stark black and white.  You can read all about the experiment in phenomenology that Shepard Fairey intended with this campaign, and more that you ever wanted to know about stickers in his essay on Sticker Art.  It begins…

“Sticker’s rule. When I pause to think about it, stickers have changed my life.

And with that sentiment, I leave you with this lovely whimsical sticker, found along the Mandela Parkway bike route, which incidentally, was a great addition to my West Oakland neighborhood…

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