The “Obey” creator helps make fun of the subversive art form that he helped pioneer
“You wanna be radical? This is the radical store for you,” says Fred Armisen’s character, Phil, one of the co-owners of Shocking Art Supplies.
In the latest episode of Portlandia, premiering January 29, Armisen and series co-creator Carrie Brownstein reprise their roles as the aggressive art entrepreneurs behind Bad Art Good Walls. Instead of peddling bad art to coffee shops, such as “a forlorn, red-headed woman,” “a blurry dog,” and “student photography,” the duo is looking to push new, stereotypically “edgy” inventory for art students. They offer “pre-smashed TVs,” “baby doll parts,” “mannequins and stencils,” “American flags — upside-down flags,” and more.
Shepard Fairey, the street artist and branding expert, makes an appearance in the skit, restocking shelves, smashing TVs, and stenciling designs on mannequins. He even makes a “radical juxtaposition” of doll parts that doubles as a commentary on modern society. Fairey is considered one of the pioneers of the subversive, counterculture art that Portlandia is mocking, and it’s refreshing an artist able to poke fun at himself (although slapping an Obey sticker somewhere in the skit would have been more ironic).
“The part I play, a jaded store employee, was set in the exact art store where I bought my art supplies while staying in Portland for a stint a few summers ago,” Fairey wrote on Instagram. “I’m no actor, but this part, along with maybe ‘jaded art student’ or ‘jaded skate shope employee,’ are the closest I’ll ever get to method acting.”
Saturday Night Live also recently made fun of student theatre, in a skit where two parents comment on the absurd and silly happenings of the kids’ experimental high school theatre show. Here’s to hoping there’s a crossover episode where the two worlds collide, or they take on aspiring young musicians next.