Outsider politics

"Bernie Birds," by Suzanne Ryan

“Bernie Birds,” by Suzanne Ryan

Earlier this month I wrote about art dedicated to presidential candidate Donald Trump. I’d seen examples in a news story in the Guardian. On the other hand, I noticed the phenomenon of Bernie Sanders art by watching it cross my Facebook newsfeed. These were posted by the artists who made them. Sanders’ artists are making a wave from the bottom up.

"Fuerza Bernie!" by Nestor Madalengoitia

“Fuerza Bernie!” by Nestor Madalengoitia

Nestor Madalengoitia is a painter and muralist from Poughkeepsie, NY. He attributes his high-chroma, bold style to his Peruvian heritage. Several years ago, he transitioned from palette-knife sharpness to forming his paintings out of letters or other geometric designs. The letters are never random; they form a text that supports the image while simultaneously reinforcing the design of the piece. Fuerza Bernie! follows this formula. The text is subsumed into the design; one barely notices it crossing the face or structuring the background.

The Felted Gnome Knows is an Etsy shop run by Suzanne Ryan of Essex Junction, VT. “The Bernie Bird is to commemorate Vermont’s own Bernie who is running for president,” she wrote. “Each bird is hand made with Vermont sourced wool that was processed in a Vermont Fiber Mill. Each bird will be slightly different since I make each one by hand one at a time.” In order to support Sanders’ run, Ryan is donated 10% of the $28.50 purchase price to the campaign.

"Philly the Bern," by Old Broads and DistoArt

“Philly the Bern,” by Old Broads and DistoArt

The Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia this year. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign that has already exceeded its goal, a mural in Center City exuberantly proclaims Philly for Sanders. This is a collaborative work between Old Broads and DistoArt, instigated by the building’s owner, Glass Properties.

The building is slated for renovation, but the mural will remain throughout the silly season. The publicity centers on a hashtag, #phillythebern.

Mural by Dan Buller for "The Art of a Political Revolution"

Mural by Dan Buller for “The Art of a Political Revolution”

Art of a Political Revolution is a show mounted by HVW8 Gallery in Los Angeles. In keeping with its California origins, the show has a moldy-oldie political protest vibe, but it includes plenty of well-made art. The idea is that it will roll around the country during the election season. However, after its Austin, TX appearance, its schedule is a bit nebulous.

Nicholas Kristof wrote that the media “handed Trump the microphone without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background, in a craven symbiosis that boosted audiences for both.” Nowhere is the difference between Trump’s and Sanders’ campaigns more obvious than in their art. Much of the Sanders art is competent, professional, and trendy, and is being promoted through skillful use of social media. In comparison, the Trump art is primarily adulatory in a way that mimics that ‘craven symbiosis.’

Both Trump and Sanders have caught the fancy of people who don’t often engage in politics, which accounts for the outpouring of artistic expression on their behalf. It’s unlikely that either Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz will ever inspire spontaneous art.

Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit www.watch-me-paint.com/ for more information.