Southern California was calling once again. Saturday night was The Next Big Thing! opening at Blackboard Gallery part of Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, California. The reception was packed with enthusiastic artists and guests. Artworks on display fearlessly pushed passed traditional commercial boundaries. Freedom of expression was refreshingly supported.
From the venue’s website: “Mat Gleason is an internationally recognized art critic and curator of contemporary practice. As the Founder of the highly controversial Coagula Art Journal he gained a reputation for confrontation and tearing down the establishment. Almost thirty years later Gleason, the outspoken critic, has become the curator, with a reputation for creating dynamic and experimental exhibitions that are no less challenging than his editorials.”
Four of my artworks were selected for the exhibit: I VOTED, CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS, REALITY WINNER, and DONALD J. TRUMP. The artist call encouraged artists to enter break-through pieces part of an artistic evolution. There was an overwhelming response with over 400 artwork submissions!
I VOTED: In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 2,868,691 more votes than Donald J. Trump. The loss margin was the largest in history with an Electoral College win. One electoral vote in Wyoming equals 3.18 in California. Gerrymandering and voter suppression thrive in an antiquated system built on racism. Mimicking the makeup application process, “I Voted” stickers expose female objectification while confronting oppressive roles. The silent majority must unite for change.
CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS: My art practice investigates symbols of influence and power that impact perception. Since becoming president, Donald J. Trump has broken political norms including alienating allies, befriending enemies, disrespecting journalists, and undermining institutions. The constant gaslighting of truth has created a constitutional crisis leaving lasting impacts on democracy. Hopefully, the Founding Fathers anticipated foreign electoral intervention along with a megalomaniac barreling America into a kleptocracy and autocracy.
REALITY WINNER: Lady Justice is a symbol of impartiality in our judicial system. Standing stoically with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other, she is blindfolded representing that power, status, or money has no influence. A standard braille sign becomes repurposed by altering its function. The art highlights whistleblower Reality Winner, a former Air Force linguist and intelligence contractor currently serving a prison sentence. She leaked a top-secret government document exposing Russian election interference. Winner is a whistleblower whose actions expose truth to protect democracy.
DONALD J. TRUMP: President Donald J. Trump’s obsession with the color and material gold can be found in his branding, Oval Office drapes, Mar-a-Lago fixtures, penthouse, and airplane. The gold standard is the system that currency’s value is defined by for exchange. Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered truth and a path to justice in his report. Smith & Wesson’s most popular police handcuffs have been repurposed altering function. The word “DONALD J. TRUMP” is branded on 24K gold plated handcuffs indicating that no amount of money, gold or man is above the law in America.
Throughout history, artists have challenged the status quo by questioning the world we live in. Art must be an honest reflection of the human experience. The late art critic Robert Hughes: “There is virtue in virtuosity, especially today, when it protects us from the tedious spectacle of ineptitude.” The revolution continues with or without validation.
The Next Big Thing! Blackboard Gallery. Studio Channel Islands. Camarillo, CA. June 1-July 20, 2019.