The “Sponsorship” exhibit, which opened at the BlkMrkt gallery in Los Angeles in February, features corporate logos selected not for their design quality but for how much the companies were willing to pay to have their name in the show. “Sponsorship’s” double-entendre—acknowledging fine art’s dependence on corporate support while questioning the sincerity of that corporate patronage—has gallery goers and corporate spokespeople alike wondering about the strange relationship between fine art and its big money backers. “I thought it was super cool,” says Jeri Yoshizu, a promotions manager for Toyota. “I did feel like we were being mocked, but what the hell.” The list of companies that participated also includes Levi’s, AOL, Yahoo!, Kinko’s, and Red Bull. Gallery hosts Ryan McGinness and Shepard Fairey would like the audience to realize that the borders between art and capital are ill-defined and that this is not just an attack on commercialism. They note, for instance, that Shepard Fairy’s legendary “Obey Giant” guerrilla stencil and poster campaign played brilliantly on brand identification and politicking for an imaginary cause.
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