Wednesday, February 18, 2009

AHA All Things Hawaiian Show: Winners

[Photos courtesy of Roy Okano.]

From left to right: Juror David Behlke, Charlene Hughes, AHA President Anthony Randall, Noriko Wakayama, Jennifer Cook, David Devenot, Suzanne Marinelli, Hans Loffel, Phil Uhl

First Place: "Lime Italian Glass" by Noriko Wakayama

Second Place: "Reflection Time" by Phil Uhl

Third Place: "Looking Mauka" by Hans Loffel

Juror's Choice Honorable Mention: "Beauty" by Jennifer Cook

Honorable Mention: "Annalisa's Wedding Basket" by Suzanne Marinelli

Honorable Mention: "Chinatown Market Place" by David Devenot

Honorable Mention: "Pine Man - End of Era" by Charlene Hughes

Monday, February 16, 2009

AHA Non-Figurative Show: People's Choice Winners

[Photos are courtesy of Roy Okano.]

First Place: "Koi Noir" by Warren Stenberg

Second Place: "Longevity III" by Regina Bode

Third Place:
"Articulation: Whispering Universe" by Geoff Kam

Fourth Place: "Blue Rules" by Arlene Woo

Monday, February 9, 2009

Calif. artist sues AP over image of Obama

(Editor's Note: This article is a follow-up to last Wednesday's piece about the Associated Press threatening Fairey with copyright infringement (link). I haven't actually seen the lawsuit, but it appears to be a declaratory judgment action in which Fairey is seeking the court's declaration that his work is not infringing. It will be interesting to see how the court rules, if the case makes it that far.)

NEW YORK – An artist who created a famous image of Barack Obama before he became president sued The Associated Press on Monday, asking a judge to find that his use of an AP photo in creating the poster did not violate copyright law.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said street artist Shepard Fairey did not violate the copyright of the April 2006 photograph because he dramatically changed the nature of the image.

The AP has said it is owed credit and compensation for the artist's rendition of the picture, taken by Mannie Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

Lawyers for Fairey acknowledged that the artist used the photograph. But they said he transformed the literal depiction into a "stunning, abstracted and idealized visual image that creates powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message."

AP spokesman Paul Colford said the AP was "disappointed by the surprise filing."

He said in a statement that the AP had agreed last week not to take legal action while it was in settlement talks, but that Fairey's attorney broke off contact Friday.

Colford said the AP had indicated that any settlement would benefit a charitable fund that supports AP journalists worldwide who suffer personal loss from natural disasters and conflicts.

"AP believes it is crucial to protect photographers, who are creators and artists. Their work should not be misappropriated by others," Colford said.

The AP has not taken legal action against Fairey. But his lawsuit noted that the AP had threatened twice to sue Fairey, possibly as early as Tuesday, and that it considered all works that incorporate the imagery of the "Obama Hope" poster to be infringements of its copyrights.

The lawsuit said the purpose of the photograph documented the day's events while Fairey's art, titled "Obama Progress" and "Obama Hope," was meant "to inspire, convince and convey the power of Obama's ideals, as well as his potential as a leader, through graphic metaphor."

Fairey's image became popular on buttons, posters and Web sites. It showed a pensive Barack Obama looking upward. It was splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

The lawsuit noted that Fairey first began distributing his Obama images in early 2008 and that Obama thanked him in a Feb. 22 letter for his contribution to the presidential campaign.

When asked Monday about AP's position, Fairey said: "It's a suppression of an artist's freedom of expression." His attorney advised him not to say anything else.

The lawsuit was brought on Fairey's behalf by the Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project and a San Francisco-based law firm.

"There should be no doubt about the legality of Fairey's work," said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project. "He used the photograph for a purpose entirely different than the original, and transformed it dramatically."

The lawsuit was filed on the same day that Fairey appeared in two different Boston courtrooms, where he pleaded not guilty to charges he tagged property with graffiti.

He allegedly vandalized a Massachusetts Turnpike Authority building last month as part of one of his street art campaigns. Fairey also pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of placing a poster on a Boston electrical box in September 2000. Boston police said he had failed to appear in court in the 9-year-old case days after his arrest.

The 38-year-old Los Angeles resident was arrested Friday when he was in Boston for an event kicking off his exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art. At the time of the arrest, detectives were aware that Fairey had failed to appear in court in 2000, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

Fairey was ordered to return to court on the Boston charges for pre-trial hearings on March 10 and 11.

"I'd love to be able to feel like the culture of Boston continues to encourage freedom of expression," Fairey said after Monday's hearings. "If that's not going to be the case, I'll deal with that."


Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this report from Boston.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

AHA Artist Roster Project

Dear AHA Artist:
We have an on-line membership roster. The website is
(Current) members are invited to email an image of your art together with a statement, commentary or bio directly to the site.
It's very easy! Here is how you do it:
1. Start up a new message.
2. On the subject line, put your name.
3. In the text box, just cut and paste in your information. If you do not have a ready-made bio somewhere in your computer, just type in something about yourself. Don't worry, anything you post can be edited if you find it unsatisfactory.
4. Attach a picture of your art work. (You do this in the same way that you would attach a jpeg to mail to your friend.)
5. Send this email off to:
6. Go to to see what you posted.
Your posts will be reviewed for appropriateness. Don't post anything that the average viewer might consider offensive such as porn, vulgar language, bad language, comments that might create flame wars or off-topic comments; positively no spamming. You may include your contact name and number and your website address. Three posts per member is the maximum so that everyone will have a chance to show their stuff.
If you should have any questions, let me know.
Priscilla Hall
Membership Chair

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image

(Editor's Note: I ran across this item today on Yahoo! and am taking the liberty of reproducing it here. It raises some interesting questions about the limits of the Fair Use Doctrine. But on a deeper level, it raises questions about the extent to which any derivative work should be considered art in a country that can sometimes make a fetish of artistic originality.)

nal Writer, Wed Feb 4, 2009 6:56 pm ET

NEW YORK – On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: A pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

Fair use is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law, based on, among other factors, how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

A longtime rebel with a history of breaking rules, Fairey has said he found the photograph using Google Images. He released the image on his Web site shortly after he created it, in early 2008, and made thousands of posters for the street.

As it caught on, supporters began downloading the image and distributing it at campaign events, while blogs and other Internet sites picked it up. Fairey has said that he did not receive any of the money raised.

A former Obama campaign official said they were well aware of the image based on the picture taken by Garcia, a temporary hire no longer with the AP, but never licensed it or used it officially. The Obama official asked not to be identified because no one was authorized anymore to speak on behalf of the campaign.

The image's fame did not end with the election.

It will be included this month at a Fairey exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and a mixed-media stenciled collage version has been added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

"The continued use of the poster, regardless of whether it is for galleries or other distribution, is part of the discussion AP is having with Mr. Fairey's representative," Colford said.

A New York Times book on the election, just published by Penguin Group (USA), includes the image. A Vermont-based publisher, Chelsea Green, also used it — credited solely to Fairey_ as the cover for Robert Kuttner's "Obama's Challenge," an economic manifesto released in September. Chelsea Green president Margo Baldwin said that Fairey did not ask for money, only that the publisher make a donation to the National Endowment for the Arts.

"It's a wonderful piece of art, but I wish he had been more careful about the licensing of it," said Baldwin, who added that Chelsea Green gave $2,500 to the NEA.

Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist. [Editor's note: see for youself, click here.]

Fairey has said that he first designed the image a year ago after he was encouraged by the Obama campaign to come up with some kind of artwork. Last spring, he showed a letter to The Washington Post that came from the candidate.

"Dear Shepard," the letter reads. "I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can help change the status quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign."

At first, Obama's team just encouraged him to make an image, Fairey has said. But soon after he created it, a worker involved in the campaign asked if Fairey could make an image from a photo to which the campaign had rights.

"I donated an image to them, which they used. It was the one that said "Change" underneath it. And then later on I did another one that said "Vote" underneath it, that had Obama smiling," he said in a December 2008 interview with an underground photography Web site.


Associated Press writer Philip Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.