Shepard Fairey, the prodigious artist behind Obama's "Hope" poster, is in San Francisco this week where he's working on two murals in a series of five called American Civics. Those focus on what Fairey considers to be abiding issues of our time, and in Hayes Valley (at PROXY) that means he was working today (and supposedly yesterday, though I saw that little progress was made until this morning) on a mural depicting Cesar Chavez in an effort to highlight wage rights. The image of Chavez Fairey has chosen is a photo Jim Marshall took of Chavez taken after the activist's 300-mile march to Sacramento in 1966 in solidarity with farm workers.
"I believe in what Chavez stood for as an activist and civil rights leader," says Fairey. "He fought for the rights of people doing some of the most difficult work for some of the lowest wages so they could unionize and advocate for themselves to earn a dignified wage. In my art piece, I included articles that reflected the struggles of people who are on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Chavez fought to increase the minimum wage for these people, and that battle continues today."
Next, Fairey will be at 701 Alabama Street (at 20th) for his subsequent mural, one depicting Fannie Lee Chaney in 1964, and through her, the fight for voting rights. Chaney's son was killed by the Ku Klux Klan members for registering black voters.
Finally, Fairey will appear at a public art opening on Saturday at the San Francisco Art Exchange at 458 Geary Street.