The 'Nirvana Baby' Chasing the Dollar on the Nevermind Cover Works for Shepard Fairey. Fitting, No?


The last time we saw Spencer Elden, the chubby swimming baby on Nirvana's unforgettable Nevermind cover, he was the 14-year-old side-hatted skater boy above talking about his unwitting role in musical history. Now he's all grown up and living in Los Angeles, where he is working for OBEY. This is not a figure of speech: Shepard Fairey is the Nirvana Baby's boss. Now we're first in line to drum up the backlash to the Fairey backlash: not only is hating on the nation's First Artist so 2002, but dude is, by all accounts, a really good human who helped bridged the gap from REVS to Twist. That said, the fact that the baby chasing the dollar bill on the iconic symbol of '90s "alternative" culture now works for Shepard Fairey, who embodies the 21st-century commodification of underground culture, is, well, rich.

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Live from Shepard Fairey's "May Day" Opening at Deitch Projects: Fab 5 Freddy and a Topless Breastfeeding Lady

all photos by Sam Horine
Shepard Fairey has a motorcycle posse. And it includes Rick Ross a guy who looks a hell of a lot like Rick Ross

Shepard Fairey's "May Day" show opened this past Saturday. The noise about Deitch Projects' send-off has been near-deafening, amplified by Fairey's rabidly targeted, heavily guarded, possibly illegal Houston Street mural and a handful of Music Hall of Williamsburg-instigated Band of Horses jokes. So the Derby Day event, and specifically Wooster Street, was mobbed. Mobbed like a street fair. Mobbed like one of the only times you'd ever sympathize with the pissy door guy. Mobbed like this was Splash Mountain and everybody was on April vacation.

But once you finally got inside, this is what you saw:

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When Shepard Fairey Vandalizes the Music Hall of Williamsburg, He Does It While Listening to Band of Horses

Gregg Greenwood
So, if you're keeping track of Shepard Fairey-related activity around NYC, there is the wall on Houston Street, the Ace Hotel wrap-around, the May Day show at Deitch Projects and, last but not least, a permanent, indoor mural installation at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. That last bit happened over the weekend, when Fairey took to the upstairs bar and, in a kind of a grammatical nightmare of a sentence from the MHOW press release, set to work: "Listening to a playlist including Metallica, Fugazi, and Band of Horses, Fairey's pasted posters feature images demonstrating his disdain for the dysfunctional democracy and the need for campaign finance reform." Which would make those posters the savviest listeners in the history of wheatpasting, but never mind. Also, he disdains campaign finance reform? Bowery Presents, we got copy editors, holler at us.