There were plenty of onlookers during the second day of work on the OBEY GIANT mural in South Park (San Diego) by Shepard Fairey and his crew (day one here). The crowd was a good mix of photogs, hipsters, fixie riders, random curious ladies taking neighborhood walks...and along came a man who seemed to be plucked straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film.
He moaned some nonsense about how he "owned most of all this..." property next door to the mural, and whined, "I gotta look at this every day!?" The hipsters had some fun chatting with him as Grandpa Grumpypants kept staring up with fire in his eyes at the scissor-lift while Fairey & co. cut huge stencils of a cloaked figure.
It was interesting to see the artists cutting their stencils directly on the cinderblock building. Seems like a mundane detail, simply a time-intensive task required to get a huge mural up on the side of a building – and indeed it is.
But it's also a reminder that the patronage of a museum like MCASD (or for that matter, lending our own wall to Mike Maxwell) can make a world of difference for what an artist is able to do with a public work. Having several days to underpaint, create background patterns, wheat-paste in several layers, and overlay figurative images with enormous grid-based stencils is a lot different than showing up at 3am with a pre-cut stencil and a couple cans of aerosol.
Both modes of operation have their owns merits, but they are vastly different when it comes to decorative complexity or the context created by risking arrest.
We're pretty happy about the freedoms granted to the artists of Viva La Revolucion, and hope the extra time they're spending on these pieces will open more dialogue with Grandpa Grumpypants or anyone else who's a stranger to street art.