Last month, suddenly and overnight, the incredible Os Gemeos mural at Houston and Bowery was replaced with a Shepard Fairey installation. I walk down this stretch of Houston everyday on my way to work, and I remember the first day it went up, feeling, for lack of better words, kind of bummed out. When I first moved to the East Village, I would daydream about inviting my friends out from the Bay Area and leading them, with pride, to the Os Gemeos mural. “How cool is this…the respected Brazilian duo displayed on a prominent, well-lit wall right down the street,” I would say. Overnight, my ego-driven fantasies were taken away.
I asked myself why I felt downtrodden and a bit angry about the new Fairey mural. It was impressive, after all. As a lad I loved the Andre the Giant stickers, and although I didn’t follow Fairey’s trajectory in detail, I always had a lazy respect for his place in the art world. I still do, I suppose. Yet when the Fairey mural went up, it felt like real street art was being replaced with an ad. Maybe that’s because Obey’s in Nordstoms? At the time, I was unaware that there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding Fairey’s art. But I’ll avoid polemics here, and instead provide some images of what Fairey’s mural looks two months in. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with a negative reaction to the mural switchup.
It’s cool how you can see Os Gemeos’ trademark yellow people smiling as they are released from underneath the Fairey mural. It’s transforming into a new piece and a new statement.