On Today’s DnA: Shepard Fairey, Robbie Conal and the Gamble House

Much ado has been made about Shepard Fairey and his Obama propaganda game-changer (check out this incredible site with all the parodies of his “Hope” poster, thanks to Spencer). But before there was Shepard—literally, before he was even born—there was Robbie Conal.

Robbie’s politically-blistering work has been Los Angeles’ urban wallpaper since the 1980s. I’ve always remembered reading this account by my friend David Mayes about going “guerrilla postering” with him in multiple cities, which David wrote back in 2003. Yes, they do get busted, but even the cops laugh at Robbie’s depiction of George Bush as the “father,” W. as the “son,” and Dick Cheney as the “holy ghost.”

Shepard and Robbie (and yes, they have done some late-night wheatpasting together) both talk on today’s show about designing for driving, distracted Los Angeles and how they’re single-handedly wrestling back public space that’s been invaded by advertising. This is especially salient in light of the battle over those new digital billboards. And I do mean light! If you can’t get enough Robbie you can check out a massive retrospective of his work up at Track 16 in Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Finally, it’s over to Pasadena and the Gamble House, which turns 100 this year. There are several exhibitions and events through the end of the year celebrating the Arts and Crafts masterpiece, which was designed by the brothers Greene & Greene. But when I went to visit it for the first time last year, I admit the architectural significance took a back seat to one of the most important house cameos of all time. The exteriors were used as Dr. Emmett Brown’s residence in Back to the Future and all I could think of was Christopher Lloyd sprinting through the lawn with the plans for the flux capacitor. Run for it Marty!

Check out the DnA calendar this month, freshly restocked with delicious items. If you know of any design or architecture events in Los Angeles, please send them my way. You can listen to DnA on KCRW live every 3rd Tuesday at 2:30pm PST, by podcasting through iTunes, or by streaming the audio at any time by clicking the little ‘Listen’ button underneath each show’s title on KCRW’s website. And don’t forget the DnA blog, with bonus interviews by host Frances Anderton.

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