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Shepard Fairey pays homage to album art in 50 Shades of Black art show

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50 Shades Of Black features pieces inspired by the 12-inch record cover format and is inspired by Shepard Fairey's love for music like British punk rockers the Clash.

L.A.-based street artist Shepard Fairey made a name for himself 25 years ago with a sticker campaign featuring the late wrestling legend, Andre the Giant.

In 2008, he created the famous red white and blue campaign poster featuring the word HOPE for Barack Obama. Fairey's designs can also be found on the cover of albums by the Black Eyed Peas, The Smashing Pumpkins and Anthrax. 

Tonight, he hosts the opening of a new exhibit, 50 Shades Of Black, at his Subliminal Projects gallery in Echo Park. 

50 Shades Of Black features pieces inspired by the 12-inch record cover format and is inspired by Shepard Fairey's love for music like British punk rockers the Clash. Fairey joins Take Two from his gallery to talk about the new exhibit and  some of the first albums that influenced him.

Interview Highlights:

On his motivation for "50 Shades of Black":

"When I think about how I want to reach an audience, I just wanted to make pieces that were inspired by something that gave me so much pleasure. So I started doing these tributes to the 12-inch record formats…Now that people are looking at teeny, 25-pixel things on their screen that represent the mp3, it's not quite the same. I wanted to bring that tactile side of the music experience back to the show and just do these pieces that are tributes to the 12-inch formats. So I have 50 pieces that are on LPs that I have collaged on top of and printed new images. I have put all my favorite records in a record store installation in the space with two turntables. People can take any of my records, whether it's rare, whether it's signed, listen to it and hopefully put it back."

On some of the music that influenced his work:

"I have several Clash references in the show. There's a death or glory piece with a skull and it's got some of the lyrics. There's another piece called "C'mon Everybody," which was originally done by Eddie Cochran in the '50s, first generation rock ‘n’ roll, but covered by the Sex Pistols. I have a girl looking through records, kind of like [The Clash's] "London Calling" sleeve, where it's a girl and a guy looking through records, but different illustrations. But she's wearing a leather jacket like Sid's and a necklace like Sid's with a lock on it. Basically, there's two generations of "C'mon Everybody" represented within one picture."

On the dying art of the album cover:

"I'm nostalgic for it, because the record itself was such an important part of my evolution and growing up in South Carolina where there wasn't a lot of creative culture—you know, the record package itself might be the only cultural artifact in the entire equation. So it was very valuable to me. Now with the internet, there is still a lot of creativity but there's value to it. I hope it never goes away."

Exhibition Dates:
April 16 – May 17, 2014

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
8 – 11 pm

Free to Public
RSVP Required:

Subliminal Projects
1331 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

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