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Friday, June 8, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Visual Arts

Gallery, guerrilla art a good mix

Special to The Seattle Times

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As the Independent Media Center prepares to defend its First Amendment rights, an exhibition featuring local, national and international grass-roots-activist propaganda art opens at its downtown storefront gallery.

"PhenomANON: Two Decades of Ephemeral Urban Guerrilla Artfare"


"PhenomANON: Two Decades of Ephemeral Urban Guerrilla Artfare" Opening with film, hip-hop poetry, DJs and performances 2-10 p.m. tomorrow; runs 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon-3 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July 31, Independent Media Center, 1415 Third Ave., Seattle. Free ($5-$10 suggested donation). 206-262-0721 or www.indymedia.org.
"This is a controversial exhibition happening at a controversial location," says Lauren Holloway, curator of "PhenomANON: Two Decades of Ephemeral Urban Guerrilla Artfare." And she's not exaggerating.

The Seattle IMC came under FBI scrutiny this past April during the Free Trade Act of the Americas (FTAA) protests in Quebec, Canada, when stolen documents outlining police security plans were allegedly posted on its Web site (www.indymedia.org). A gag order was issued, then removed after the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported the incident.

The FBI is currently attempting to obtain server access logs of the IMC during the FTAA protest. The IMC argues this is a First Amendment violation and seeks to protect the anonymity of its worldwide contributors.

Opening tomorrow, "PhenomANON" is an installation of stickers, posters, stencils, 'zines and other urban media. Featuring artwork intended mostly for public spaces and created anonymously, this exhibition is the "bricks and mortar" version of the IMC Web site, albeit terse and more visually appealing. A sampling of artists include the ubiquitous Shepard Fairey (of "Andre the Giant has a Posse" fame); Akayism of Stockholm (specializing in banal "subvertisements" that urge "Do Not Follow Leaders"); and the artist whose "Progress" campaign ("freedom is a door, you must walk through progress") has been seen on the streets of Seattle for several years now.

Messages range from the political ("Enjoy Corporate Control," in the familiar Coca-Cola font) to the simple ("The Flower Guy" from New York's sweetly stenciled flowers).

Removed from its urban context, guerrilla art usually isn't successful in a gallery setting. However, the IMC gallery is an excellent home for this exhibition because of the work the IMC already does year-round.

Be sure to stop by the sticker banquet table for free goodies or contribute your own stencil or sticker to the "free wall" inside the gallery. Plans are currently in the works to transport this show to Melbourne, Australia, San Francisco and New York.

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