Vanity Fair and Cadillac, in Partnership with MOCA Create “The West Hollywood Library Murals.” Artists Shepard Fairey, Retna, and Kenny Scharf Bring Art to the Streets of Los Angeles
By Leah Sydney
Yahoo! Contributor Network

Leave it to Hollywood, specifically West Hollywood, to make a library hip. Artists Shepard Fairey, Retna, and Kenny Scharf bring Art to the Streets of Los Angeles via three public murals displayed on the exterior walls of the new West Hollywood Library. The murals are the fruits of an innovative collaboration between Vanity Fair and Cadillac in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), and the City of West Hollywood. The project is known as “The West Hollywood Library Murals.”

I spoke with artist/graphic designer Shepard Fairey, who also describes himself as a “world citizen.” Shepard gained international acclaim with his iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster.

Fairey recently showed his support for the Occupy Wall Street protestors by designing an invitation to join demonstrations as they moved uptown to Times Square. Art critics across the country name him as one of the most influential street artists working today.

How did he manage to paint this amazing mural on the side of this huge building? Shepard explained, “I worked with a group of my assistants and came up with a grid system of transferring an image that I had designed ahead of time and then painted it in. It involved a week of fourteen to sixteen days painting in the sun wearing hardhat, harnesses and going up and down a very big building.”

I asked him how he felt about the huge impact he has had on bringing art to a relatively young audience.

Shepard answered, “I’m grateful that I have an audience for my art and that I’m able to be creative for a living. I continue to do what got me to this point, which is to work hard and stay tuned to what’s going on in the world. Art is really under appreciated in pop culture. I do everything I can to step art up so it can compete with the other phenomena we have to contend with; music, celebrity, movies and tabloid news. I think it’s the duty of artists, because art is such a great communication tool, to do whatever they can to interrupt all the white noise people contend with.”

I asked how long he hopes the painting will stay up? Shepard quipped, “The sun is a powerful force of destruction both in global warming and in mural painting. So hopefully it will be here for awhile. They’re getting good feedback so I’m happy about that. ”

I got great feedback as well from two of the prominent guests at the event. George Blodwell, a noted Fashion Stylist and Editor at Large of “Genlux Magazine,” the go too Los Angeles magazine for all things haute and luxury, told me, “I think it’s fantastic because the mural is vibrant, exciting and truly transfixing.”

Esteemed Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon Dr. Randal Haworth gave me his insider’s take on Shepard’s art. Randal’s perspective is truly unique, as he is one of the only board certified plastic surgeons in the world who has attained recognition separately as a fine artist- he paints, sculpts and draws. His artwork has been shown in numerous prestigious galleries throughout the world. Dr. Haworth remarked that the “mural is classic Shepard Fairey, with his inimitable trademark use of eye-catching patterns. The painting is about peace and tranquility. He employs recognizable iconography such as Hindu elephants, doves and peace signs to deliver his message. I’ve always been admiring of his innovative style. Shepard is bridging the schism between highbrow and lowbrow art, in such a way that he’s making art accessible to everyone. I appreciate how rare that ability is; he is one of the mavericks of modern street art. “