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1971 (age 46–47)
Santa Cruz, California, United States
|Known for||Painter, muralist, graffiti|
Mear One (born 1971 as Kalen Ockerman) is an American artist known for his often-political street graffiti art. Mear One is associated with CBS (Can't Be Stopped – City Bomb Squad) and WCA (West Coast Artist) crews. As a graphic designer, Mear One has designed apparel for Conart, Kaotic, as well as his own Reform brand. Mear One has done album covers for artists like Non Phixion, Freestyle Fellowship, Alien Nation, Limp Bizkit, Busdriver and Daddy Kev.
In 2004, Mear One joined artists Shepard Fairey and Robbie Conal to create a series of "anti-war, anti-Bush" posters for a street art campaign called "Be the Revolution" for the art collective Post Gen.
In April 2014, Mear spoke with fellow graffiti-muralists Cache, EyeOne, and Alice Mizrachi at Brown University as part of the panel Bottom-Up Place Making: Graffiti-murals and Latino/a Urbanism, hosted by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and moderated by Brown University urban theorist, graffiti writer, and professor, Dr Stefano Bloch.
Brick Lane mural
One of Mear One's works, a mural entitled Freedom for Humanity painted on a wall in Brick Lane, London in 2012, attracted controversy in the media when commentators likened it to antisemitic propaganda in Nazi Germany. The mural depicted a group of elderly bankers or businessmen sitting around a board game that resembled Monopoly and was supported by crouching naked human figures. Above the group was an Eye of Providence pyramid symbol, and to the side stood a protesting figure bearing a placard with the slogan "The New World Order is the enemy of humanity". Ockerman has stated that the figures represented an "elite banker cartel" consisting of the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers, and the Morgans, and that the pyramid symbolised Freemasonry.
Lutfur Rahman, then Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said "the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions" and ordered it to be removed.
In response, Mear One denied that the mural was racist; he was quoted in the British newspaper The Independent as saying that the mural was about "class and privilege", and pointed out that the figures depicted included both "Jewish and white Anglos". He was also quoted in The Jewish Chronicle newspaper as saying, "Some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are" (in reference to the Warburg family).
In March 2018, the issue of the Tower Hamlet's mural resurfaced as the British politician Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, had previously expressed support for Mear One; in a Facebook post in 2012, Corbyn had likened the removal of the mural to Nelson Rockefeller's destruction of Diego Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads fresco in 1934. Critics levelled accusations against Corbyn of ignoring anti-semitism. In response, Corbyn retracted his expression of support and stated, "I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic."
- "The Outdoor Street Gallery of Dulwich". Inspiringcity.com. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
- "Meet Guest Judge MEAR ONE". 23 January 2015.
- "Kalen Ockerman mural to be removed from Brick Lane". BBC News. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Whitehouse, Geoff (8 October 2012). "Mear One's Brick Lane Street Art: Class and Societal Inequality Not Racial Hatred". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Dysch, Marcus (6 November 2015). "Did Jeremy Corbyn back artist whose mural was condemned as antisemitic?". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Merrick, Rob (23 March 2018). "Jeremy Corbyn forced to backtrack over apparent support for antisemitic mural". The Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Pollard, Stephen (24 March 2018). "There is only one word for Jeremy Corbyn". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Stewart, Heather (23 March 2018). "Corbyn criticised after backing artist behind antisemitic mural". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "Corbyn 'regret' over anti-Semitic mural row". BBC News. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.