In the suite that houses the work of Shepard Fairey and Tricia Choi, the women with guns outnumber the men by exactly one. To guard hotel guests against nightmares, however, the artists have kindly adorned the weaponry with flowers (Fairey) and bunnies (Choi).
“Art doesn’t have to be about how you were abandoned as a child,” Choi explains. “People don’t respond to that—I don’t respond to it. By cloaking your art in pain and darkness, people have to take it seriously, whether or not they like it.”
Though neither room takes itself too seriously, Fairey’s brings with it all the countercultural images and messages that have launched him into mainstream acceptance while still appealing to the kids who dig his wheat paste, street-art roots and “propaganda manufacturing.” And though Choi’s stylish women bear weapons, their ammo is color, and the only casualties appear to be some unlucky bunnies drowning in waves of paint.
On the birth of said bunnies, Tricia says, “I was sitting in a meeting at my day job, all oxygen is being sucked out of my head. I was sitting there dying! Then I doodled these screaming bunnies, and one of my coworkers started giggling. The bunnies represented how I felt. I went home, scanned it, colorized it, and produced a painting on canvas—it sold immediately. Screaming bunnies saved me!”
And the guns? Tricia notes that “an actual gunshot from an actual gun doesn’t always cause bad things to happen. The world’s not black and white. Guns are really controversial, and are immediately though of as negative; but they’re things, and we make them negative. Objects aren’t bad. By taking bad things and making them part of a good visual language, artists can make people not think in black-and-white.
Choi ends on a note that Fairey would likely echo: “I wanted to say thank you to the owner and the manager of the Hotel des Arts. This is such a great thing for San Francisco—and it shows that art and commerce can actually help each other.”