Anti-Trump in living color, not to mention feces and pig noses
WASHINGTON » Street artists have found new inspiration: the 2016 presidential election and its leading man, Donald Trump.
Though the 2008 presidential campaign was notable for artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic “Hope” poster featuring a wistful-looking Barack Obama, 2016 may be distinguished by its anti-Trump takes.
Hillary Clinton has taken a few knocks and Bernie Sanders makes appearances. But it’s Trump who truly inspires: From the East Coast to the West and even overseas, the presumptive Republican nominee has been lampooned as a pile of excrement, a Hitler wannabe and a kissing cousin of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“Street art can be highly critical,” said James Daichendt, an art critic and historian who studies the genre as the dean of arts and humanities at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. “And with Trump being such a divisive figure, it’s really reached a fever pitch.”
Artists tend to be more left leaning, Daichendt said, and those who favor street art — or visual public art, which can include graffiti, murals, posters and stickers — have taken offense at much of what Trump says.
“It’s their way of making a statement,” Daichendt said, noting that street art is public and accessible. It’s also inexpensive, allowing its rapid replication and, the artists hope, boosting the power of the message.
New York artist Hanksy created a mural that depicts Trump as a lump of feces topped with a swirl of yellow hair. It’s been replicated thousands of times, including on buttons.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. But he has shown in the past that he’s no fan of feces-related art.
In 1999, when he was pondering a Reform Party presidential run, he blasted a portrait of the Madonna on display at the Brooklyn Museum that included elephant dung, as well as a piece at a Detroit show of Jesus wearing a condom.
“As president, I would ensure that the National Endowment (for) the Arts stops funding of this sort,” Trump said in a statement at the time to the New York Daily News, even though the artworks didn’t receive NEA funding. “It’s not art. It’s absolutely gross, degenerate stuff. It shouldn’t be funded by government.”
It’s not just feces today.
Los Angeles street artist Robbie Conal and his “volunteer guerrilla postering army” have pasted the town with Conal’s depictions of Trump and the words “Bully Culprit” and “Can’t Even,” the latter a slang expression for something that is incomprehensible.
“My personal, self-declared mandate is democracy — that’s what I’m concerned about in America — and Trump is probably the most egregious threat,” Conal said. “He functions below reason, on a wave of hate and fear and ignorance and prejudice.”
He said his friends talked about Trump with worry and he told them to counter with whatever they were good at: “My weapon is humor,” he said.
Conal, who now says he thinks he was wrong for lumping Al Gore with George W. Bush in a poster, noted that Clinton gets criticized by a “subculture that thinks all politicians are corrupt.”
Washington, D.C., cartoonist Mike Flugennock has put up posters featuring “President Trump” with a porcine nose. But the work, which reads “Whose fault is it, really?” is also a dig at Clinton.
“The last polls I looked at in the If The Election Were Held Today Department had Sanders beating The Donald in the general fairly easily,” Flugennock wrote on his blog. “So, while Hillary may be able to lie, cheat, steal and backstab her way to the nomination, she’ll likely be toasted in November.”
Sanders mostly gets positive art. This time around, Fairey designed a T-shirt for Sanders’ campaign.
The Trump effect is global: A mural depicting Trump and Putin kissing, along with the words “make everything great again,” adorns a wall at a Lithuanian barbecue joint, Keule Ruke.
The London-based artist Pegasus painted a depiction of Trump as Adolf Hitler on a wall in England in February, telling newspapers that Trump “will become another tyrant in history.”
And Hanksy has posted in Canada.
Trump’s candidacy has spurred art beyond the streets: Artists Mary Mihelic and David Gleeson bought a former Trump campaign bus — complete with the Trump banner — off Craigslist last fall and turned it into an anti-Trump art project on wheels.
“I was offended by the things he was saying and automatically I responded with art,” said Mihelic, whose projects include “Desecration,” embroidering Trump’s remarks on American flags.
(William Douglas contributed to this report.)
©2016 McClatchy Washington Bureau
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ V V V V V ^ ^ ^^ ^ V V V ^ ^ ^ ^