By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
LOWER EAST SIDE — Shepard Fairey is taking a beating on the Bowery.
A little more than a week after the street artist completed his massive mural at the corner of Houston Street, rogue vandals gave their appraisal of the piece by puncturing it with unknown objects and even trying to add to the work themselves.
After an assailant used the mural for target practice by apparently hurling and unidentified object at it last week, another critic recently added a watermelon-sized hole to the piece and someone tried scrawling their own message on the wall made famous by pop artist Keith Haring in the ’80s.
“My expectation is that my piece may get dissed, and I’ll fix it,” Fairey said while putting up the mural last week. “That’s the nature of street art — it’s democratic. That’s good and bad. I look at it as very much the same as free speech.”
Fairey’s images — the most famous being his iconic “HOPE” portrait of President Barack Obama — have become ubiquitous across the country, though some have painted the artist as too mainstream for the streets.
One graffiti writer took the mural with his own tag before the piece was even finished, and someone tried painting a phrase below Fairey’s politically charged statements on the piece.
“Good and bad,” in the artist’s own words, the wall’s various pockmarks at least prove that Fairey has not trouble getting a response.
“Somebody could mess with this — they’re expressing their point of view that they don’t like my work or this spot is corporate, street art should only be transgressive,” he said.
“Whatever their opinion is, my opinion is that great art should be accessible to people outdoors, and whether it’s legal or illegal, I’m going to seize the opportunities to present it and present my point of view.”