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Artist Or Outlaw? City Wants Street Artist Shepard Fairey Back In Detroit To Face Charges For Tagging

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT/AP) - Is there a fine line between artist and outlaw when it comes to street art?

The city of Detroit has drawn a distinct distinction between the two with the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of artist Shepard Fairey for graffiti art he bestowed within the boundaries of the city during a visit to Detroit to beautify buildings.

Fairey Mural (Ed Cardenas)

Fairey was commissioned by Bedrock Real Estate Services, Meridian Health and Library Street Collective in May to paint the large mural, and six smaller works in the art-filled alley known as 'The Belt' which cuts through The Z parking structure connecting Grand River and Gratiot Avenues.

The 184-foot by 60 foot mural is the largest Fairey, who may be best known for creating the "Hope" poster of Barack Obama, has created in his career.

A prominent graffiti artist, Fairey, has been accused of tagging buildings in Detroit and was arrested in Los Angeles.

Detroit Law Department criminal enforcement chief Douglas Baker tells The Detroit News that Fairey was picked up Monday at Los Angeles International Airport and later released from custody.

A malicious destruction of property warrant was filed last month in Detroit. Police say about $9,000 in damage was done to other structures while Fairey was in Detroit to complete a commissioned mural.

Victoria Yarnish, director of Obey Giant Art LLC, which is affiliated with Fairey, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Fairey was "not available and has no comment at this time."

In the same vain as the secretive street artist Banksy challenging tourists and locals with his street art aimed at blending the contradictory -- artist Bansky's 2013 endeavor in and around the Manhattan boroughs, had New Yorkers pounding the pavement for glimpse at his work.

But the city of Detroit is not looking as fondly upon street art - prosecuting three teenage girls from Grosse Pointe Woods who were charged with spray painting graffiti on buildings on Michigan Avenue and Griswold in June 2014.

Although in 2014, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said officials within his administration went too far as part of a new anti-graffiti campaign by issuing tickets to building owners who had murals they commissioned or approved on their walls.

City of Detroit attorney Baker said discussions are underway on when Fairey would return to Detroit to face charges.


TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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