WTF! ArtsWave Awards Shepard Fairey: Cincinnati Official Laughing Stock in the Art World

There is nothing….absolutely nothing left in this city of Cincinnati to surprise me. While the rest of the world watches Shephard Fairey as he faces prison time for tampering with evidence and lying about stealing the work of another artist, Cincinnati’s art world will award him with a prize for “outstanding achievements in the arts.”

Street artist Shepard Fairey has been named the recipient of ArtsWave’s Rosa F. and Samuel B. Sachs Fund Prize.

Fairey will come to Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center March 29 to receive the award at a members-only party. A new limited-edition Fairey print will be available for purchase at the CAC event and will eventually go on sale to the public.

The award, created to celebrate outstanding achievements in the arts, recognizes Fairey for his 2010 retrospective exhibition at the CAC and 19 outdoor murals he created in conjunction with the exhibit.

“For more than 80 years, the Sachs Fund Prize has recognized an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to our community,” Mary McCullough-Hudson, president of ArtsWave, said in a statement released Friday. “The committee members felt strongly that Fairey’s exhibition and public murals increased the vibrancy of our city and engaged citizens in a dynamic conversation about art and society.”

The Rosa F. and Samuel B. Sachs Fund Prize was first awarded in 1929. It was provided for in the will of the late Samuel B. Sachs to honor outstanding accomplishments in the arts- inclusive of visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature, sculpture and architecture.

Since its first award, the Sachs Fund Prize has recognized individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Cincinnati, bringing distinction to themselves and the region through their work.

A committee of local arts experts, led by ArtsWave Life Trustee Richard Rosenthal, selects a recipient each year to receive the prize. Recent recipients include collector and champion of local artists Phyllis Weston, choreographer Frederic Franklin, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the CAC’s building, the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

Shepard Fairey will be in Cincinnati to accept his award next week, well in advance of his sentencing on July 16, 2012. As always, ArtsWave and the CAC have a knack for party-planning.

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4 Responses to “WTF! ArtsWave Awards Shepard Fairey: Cincinnati Official Laughing Stock in the Art World”

  1. Bruce Olson says:

    Once again ArtsWave nee FineArtsFund is completelt missing the point. The works and involvement of Shepard Fairey did nothing to advance the Greater Cincinnati region. Whatever dialogue was created was short-lived and quite mundane.

  2. kathy says:

    Of course, I’d go as far as arguing the local mural project was in fact harmful to the art discussion. In fact, I did make that argument throughout the fiasco. But the CAC seems to stand by its claim that failure to teach or lead a discussion about the murals and subsequent whitewashing of them was in fact valuable.

    Bruce, thanks for your response.

  3. J Son says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. The mural project helped to further the ArtsWave concept that the arts are for everyone — that they should not be limited to those who can afford it. Fairey’s murals belong to the people, and the arts world stood up and took notice when Cincinnati agreed to support such an endeavor. Long marred by its reaction to the Robert Mapplethorpe scandal in 1990, Cincinnati has until recently been seen as a bit of a “black hole” for contemporary arts.
    Shepard Fairey deserves the award. It’s for “outstanding achievement in the arts,” not “outstanding morals in the courtroom.”

  4. kathy says:

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your disagreement. Though I think you and I are looking at these historical events very differently.

    While the local courts may have reacted poorly to the Mapplethorpe show, the CAC’s response to stand with the artist in 1990 has a place of honor in art history books. Even with the public outcry, the CAC stood with Mapplethorpe and the rights of all artists.

    As I’ve argued in past blog posts, this time the CAC finds itself on the wrong side of art. Almost no one in the art world sees the Shepard Fairy show as a strong contribution to the arts. The show was a self-serving fiasco and Fairy has garnered no respect in the art world from this show.

    So there is an interesting historical flip here….this time the courts are correct and the CAC is wrong.

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