Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cynical Art Prank Confuses the Associated Press, Everybody Else

I kinda stumbled over this fun-sized AP article via Raw Story:
Aug. 23 - A controversial painting has been removed from a lunch room at the State Department of Justice headquarters in Sacramento.
The painting titled: "T'anks to Mr. Bush" showed a US map inside a toilet. It and two other pieces were part of a display put on by Lawyers For the Arts.

A spokesman says Attorney General Bill Lockyer ordered the picture moved because of growing tensions over the Middle East, and not because of public complaints.
And that's it! That's the whole article! Raw Story, at least, adds a picture:

I was bursting with questions after this little teaser. Who was the artist? What kind of exhibit was this? Also, does that painting seem just a little too... on-the-nose to you, a little made-to-order, even? Let's head over to the Sacramento Union, shall we, and look at another picture:

At the Union, we also find out that the painter behind this obvious bait is one Stephen Pearcy:
Pearcy, an anti-war activist who made headlines after hanging an effigy of a U.S. solider from his Land Park home, has announced he will organize a rally demanding the restoration of his work.
You can kinda follow the story today as it bounces around from the Bee to the San Francisco Chronicle, each time picking up and shedding relevant factoids. The painting is in the middle of a wacky tug-o-war, with the poor, starving artist crying censorship and the outraged Republicans rising to the bait again and again.

And where do we find the final piece of the puzzle? Would you believe on a conservative blog? But here's the artist being interviewed on "The Reality Check dot org". It's long and boring, but you do learn a whole lot more about the "poor, downtrodden artist", who is actually a slick lawyer with a slick lawyer wife.

In other words, this is all political theater, approached with outrageous cynicism on all sides, perhaps most of all by the so-called hero, and all these shenanigans are... for what? For making August less boring? For using the idea of an exhibition of paintings as a handy sock-puppet for petty partisan maneuvering? To waste tons of time and resources on a playground shoving match?

Don't believe the hype. This story has nothing whatsoever to do with art, and this is just the kind of thing that casts a shadow over legit art enterprises. This is a tale of what lawyers do when they get bored. And when they're assholes.


David N. Scott said...

Looks more like a political cartoon than a painting...

The cynicicism overload these days amazes me. 'Oh, yeah. X just ENRAGES me. It's another step in Y's attempts to take over the world!'

You wonder if they laugh as soon as the microphone turns off...

Kaufman said...

I had a feeling this story had nothing whatsoever to do with art when I laid eyes on the painting. I've been told that I've excreted matter I wasn't even aware of with more artistic merit. Out of curiosity, do you know which part of the anatomy 'the artist' used?