The summer of 2017 has been a tour of artistic resistance from the West to East Coasts of America. With a new political reality of alternative realities and truths, fearless galleries are offering artists the opportunity to exhibit. Honest creative expression isn’t controversial or inconvenient but necessary.
First stop was the Our Summer of Love and Resistance exhibit at Avenue 12 Gallery in San Francisco. The opening reception was packed with engaged visitors and thoughtful artworks. Participating artists included Abigail Drapkin, Christopher Mangum, Deidre Weinberg, Doug Rhodes, Jeff Peterson, Joseph Murdach, Rachel Murray Meyer, Nathalie Fabri, Paul Ransohoff, Philip Long, Ransom & Mitchell, Sharon Steuer, and myself.
From the curatorial statement: “We are proud to provide a place where Bay Area artists can connect with the community with this exhibit showing their work in response to the current political environment, and resist the elevated levels of hatred, violence, and policies that harm individuals and the environment. As was true of the 60’s, it is our belief that now (as always) is the time for art to provide an emotional release, the energy to move dialogue forward, and to provide a sense of meaning to struggle.”
The following week, I flew to Chicago for the SHOUT! exhibit at ARC Gallery. Since 1973, women artists have operated the non-profit cooperative. The juror was Patricia Nguyen, an international performance artist whose resume includes The Fulbright Program and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Asian American Policy Review.
ARC Gallery: “As political passions sweep the country, public expression has taken the form of marching, petitioning, donating, writing to congress…. While ARC Gallery encourages all these voices of outrage and resistance, the gallery is particularly committed to supporting creative expression as a vital and essential avenue of engagement as well.”
The resistance continued in the Art as Engagement exhibit in Washington DC at the Touchstone Gallery. Similar to ARC Gallery, Touchstone has been an artist owned venue since 1976. The juror was American University Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen. From the Press Release: “Race, women’s rights, environmental issues, immigration, refugee crises, possession of power and social media influence are only a few of the topics that inspire the artwork. Artists standing up and speaking out create a critical discussion through the lens of visual scrutiny. We hope this exhibit, using the universal language of art, will engage us all in a conversation about today’s important issues and concerns.”
My artwork DRUNK ON POWER is part of all three exhibitions. The goal was to repurpose a standard projecting sign altering its function. The art serves as a marker pointing to how an intoxicating need for power weakens democracy. Since taking office, President Trump continues to hurl authoritarian dominance despite majority dissent. Truth is a sober reality that resists imposed obedience, manipulation, and politics.
It’s hopeful to have opportunities that foster freedom of expression. However, commodification has become a necessary practice in order for artists to survive. When the creative and economic balance becomes uneven- art suffers. Current times demand investigation beyond an intrinsic surface. History continues to provides that evidence.
Summer of Love and Resistance. Avenue 12 Gallery. San Francisco, CA. June 28-August 26, 2017.
SHOUT! Arc Gallery. Chicago, IL. July 19-August 12, 2017.
Art as Engagement. Touchstone Gallery. Washington, DC. August 4-24, 2017.