You don’t have to know a damn thing about art to know the work of Shepard Fairey. The street artist’s ubiquitous poster of former President Barack Obama in red and blue, with the word “Hope” stamped at the bottom, is one of the most iconic presidential images of all time, along with those on Mount Rushmore, those printed on currency and that severed Trump head in a photo by Tyler Shields.
Fairey’s Obey brand, first made famous through an Andre the Giant sticker, morphed into a collective project called Obey Giant, which is now a contributor to Dallas’ street art landscape. Again, actually. Dallas has a long history with Fairey, mostly of not appreciating his work.
In 2012, a Fairey mural commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary was torn down to make room for a diner called Hofmann's Hot Dogs. In 2017, Fairey’s mural on a wall along the bottom of the Belmont Hotel was vandalized with black paint and a homophobic slur.
This time, his art is farther out of reach. On May 19, Obey Giant made a post on its social media channels announcing the completion of a new work featured on a water tower in Deep Ellum.
"I just returned from Dallas where my crew and I painted a 30 foot high surface on a 150 foot high water tower called 'Cultivate Harmony' in the Deep Ellum neighborhood," Fairey wrote. "I was excited to paint a mural in #DeepEllum because the creative energy in the neighborhood is amazing, with art popping up everywhere."
In the post, Fairey wrote that Dallas was the first city to feature his street art and detailed some of the challenges that came with such a tall project.
"My crew and I were working 150 feet up on 19” wide temporary scaffolding with ropes and harnesses for long hours over 3 days," he wrote.
The work features a large eye (is this Dallas' thing now?) circled with the words “Eyes open, minds open,” along with other text reading “Cultivate harmony,” flanking a design including a peace sign.
The collective also “threw in a nod” to Black Flag with the words “Rise Above,” a song by the punk band and a message Fairey wrote was “encouragement to take the high road.”
Homophobes and hot dogs would have to take a really high road to destroy this one.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.