With guilty plea, Shepard Fairey agrees to ban himself in Boston
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Shepard Fairey, the street artist who for decades has plastered his stickers and posters on buildings and street signs, issued an apology today and agreed to ban himself in Boston.
Fairey consented to a plea deal that will prohibit him from carrying stickers, posters, wheat paste, brushes, and other tools of the graffiti trade while in Suffolk County for the next two years. Under the arrangement, Fairey pleaded guilty to three vandalism charges and must pay a $2,000 fine to one of his adversaries, Graffiti NABBers for the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.
In a statement, Fairey apologized to the citizens of Boston for “posting my art in unauthorized spaces without the consent of the owner.”
“I believe in the importance of making art accessible through many avenues, and I will continue to advocate the use of legal public spaces for meaningful artistic expression and communication. Freedom expression is the bedrock of our democracy,” Fairey said. “However, I also believe it is important that people respect private property and do not use it without the authorization of the owner.
As part of the agreement, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Foss told the judge in Boston Municipal Court that they will dismiss 11 other outstanding vandalism charges against Fairey, who is best known for his “Hope” poster of President Obama, which was based on a news photograph.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Wiesner said in court that the “deal between the parties is one that serves everyone’s interest.”
Fairey at one time faced more than 30 charges in Brighton, Roxbury, and Boston municipal courts. Police arrested the 39-year-old Los Angeles resident in February minutes before he was scheduled to appear at a gala at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is exhibiting his work.
In April, a Boston Municipal Court clerk-magistrate ruled that seven charges should not go forward because there was not enough evidence. Last month prosecutors threw out 14 of the other charges.
Fairey’s hallmark image is a black and white “Obey Giant” stencil, which is based on the likeness of professional wrestler Andre the Giant. The stencils began appearing on buildings and overpasses about two decades ago and one currently hangs on the outside of the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Fairey pleaded guilty plea today two vandalism charges from earlier this year. On Jan. 22, he put a sticker on the back of a traffic sign at Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue. Two days later he hung a poster on a condominium building at 86 Massachusetts Ave. The poster of his wife holding a gun was featured prominently in his show at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He had originally been charged with two counts of tagging, but prosecutors amended the complaint to wanton destruction of property. A guilty plea to tagging would have forced Fairey to lose his driver’s license for a year in California.
The third charge of defacing a building dated to 2000, when he hung a poster outside an Osco Pharmacy at 177 Brighton Ave.
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