Senator Portrait Project [ the site ]

The Senator Portrait Project has a website!

As I described in the lengthy post over here, I made images for Wisconsin Senator Howard “Ron” Johnson (R-Oshkosh) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville). I’m one of a larger group of artists attempting to hold Congressmen responsible for their inability to even talk about guns in America.

Find my digital-analog paintings and check out my artist statement at the site : http://www.senatorportraitproject.org

the digital artist ships 2 paintings to NYC [ what? ]

After the single-shooter massacre in Orlando, a New York City-based artist started a painting project. Organized in a private Facebook group, this artist assigned Senators who have a track record of voting ‘no’ on reasonable gun regulation in America to willing artist-participants. These 54 Senators have helped prevent even the most mundane collection of data to understand how American citizens use guns. It’s a move that drives the American Medical Association bananas; medical personnel see guns’ bloody consequences in ER’s every day.

The organizer’s provided theme: blood on their hands. I signed up for Senator Howard “Ron” Johnson (R-Wi). I’m a Wisconsin resident. Ron has received an A rating from the NRA and 1.3 million bucks from gun rights groups in his single term as a Senator.

I come from a family of people who work in health care, including doctors. I’ve heard what bullets do to the body. I spent about a year working in a hospital in Pittsburgh, I loosely understand what a gunshot victim means to an ER’s workload, how it reshapes the staff’s ability to treat any other person in the ER that moment.

Its bizarre to me, the silence around the consequences of using guns. But / and then – in our daily news, we see and hear anectdotes and incidents which pile up into uncountable extremes very quickly. How many mass shootings? How many people injured?

 

Senator Ron Johnson blood on their hands

I guess Lutheran souls are expensive ’cause the gun lobby bought Senator Ron Johnson’s for $1.3 million ~

One phenomenon of the Internet is our new capability to cut through that silence. Two survivors of the Orlando shooting ~ Patience Carter and Angel Santiago ~ discuss their survival process in a media essay produced by the New York Times. I think the immediacy of personal survival narratives fuels calls for reasoned approach to regulating guns in America.

See all the portraits at Senator Portrait Project : Senators Who Have Enabled Gun Violence

New York Daily News ran many of the images in a piece on July 5 2016.

~

At the same time as the Daily News piece came out, our organizer was approached by a lobbying group, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV). NYAGV asked about portraiture of New York reps to the House in Congress. Our organizer asked for volunteers; Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) was included in the call. As a Wisconsin resident, how could I not?

I get Speaker Ryan’s lifestyle, the whole hunting-fishing thing. I grew up here. I only mildly resented those who got out of school for a week for hunting season because that week was easy peasy schoolwork and no tests. The call for discussion is simply that. A call for discussion. Who am I to attempt to control the outcome? Enforced silence gets us nowhere. That’s what each of these politicians has done, by refusing to consider discussion of something very important to the American public.

 

Speaker-Ryan-Web

[ thoughts prayers ] House Speaker Paul Ryan

Each image started as a digital composite. Both politicians’ portraits include text layers naming their financial relationships to the gun lobby, as well as their ratings by the NRA. Those spiraling texts, created using Processing, were then composited into manipulated portraits of each man.

Scale set by the organizer meant that inkjet prints were made on 8.5″ x 11″ photo paper. I mounted each print onto firmer supports before varnishing and painting ~ I love any excuse to break out Sennellier pigments. In House Speaker Paul Ryan’s case, his role asked for gold leaf. . .

 

Leah Gunn Barrett delivering artists' portraits to the politicians who voted AGAINST universal background check legislation.

digital media : so very portable

 

[ thoughts prayers ] was also printed and delivered to the Speaker by NYAGV’s Executive Director Leah Gunn Barrett. She delivered artists’ portraits to the New York politicians who voted AGAINST universal background check legislation, and the Speaker.

So why the heck am I boxing and shipping these 2 paintings? They’re now finished, mounted on cradled wood 9″ x 12″ panels. Well . . .the organizer’s working on a show, a fundraising exhibition for NYAGV. And apparently now someone volunteered to make a film of all the pieces?

Let’s keep talking about guns and what’s going on with them, for all of us!

Want to see more work? Visit the public Facebook page for the group.

street museum (shepherd got privilege)

streetmuseum01

Street Museum : Shepherd Fairey's work alongside Pittsburgh artists' wheatpastes, 14th & E. Carson St. (Beehive corner) South Side

I’ve enjoyed finding Shepherd Fairey’s work in its tapestried bits and pieces around Pittsburgh. They are familiar friends, these images and icons. When I was an undergrad in Wisconsin in the 90’s we talked about the whole, send away for the Obey the Giant stickers and things and how genius it was. Someone had stuck one to either a parking sign or something near the hot glass studio. I looked at it alot when I sat outside, smoking, cooling off. He got other people to spread his imagery for him. That’s cool.

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Street Museum : check Fairey's note at back of the streetlight

It is beautiful. Like the pretty boy who gets chicks easy and never develops his character … I kiss those pictures when I find them, in my imagination. But I liked it better in the museum I saw it in, in Boston, last year. Now Mr. Fairey’s glossy varnished gloriousness fans out with its peacock-perfectness against the red brickwork of Pittsburgh’s south side. I miss the stretcher bars; I want to see it as painting, for in its perfectness the screenprints have become paintings.

I’m most interested in the local work, the fresh stuff I get to see evolve and change day by day, moving and changing as much as I am as I move around the city. Discovering their vocabulary as they discover it, as they argue with landlords and others for their patch of canvas.

Shepherd got privilege. His work is still here, is still crisp and clear and clean, unbothered. This nags at me, rubs up against watching Ladyboy‘s wheatpastes degrade and be pulled down and erased. I liked those strange flying crystals and characters he made! Whoever’s doing the ASVP images are making fun straight-up re-appropriated screened images.

I truly miss Juicy’s angels, those spraypainted stencils, little sticker things I found ’round Squirrel Hill & other bits of the east end. Reves got it right every once in a while but worked streets that I didn’t walk so often. Rumor has it KIDS died; at least one other street artist now works Whole Foods.

I have my suspicions who’s pasting ASVP but hold my tongue and enjoy watching them pop up and be torn down.

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Street Museum : local wheatpastes

Shepherd made this a street museum. He’s taken and defined the space; everyone else has responded to his shape. There are a few marks, if you look close, on his stuff. The ASVP is hung square right up against. Right museum-like. And it hasn’t been disturbed.

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Street Museum : the image I'm actually interested in

This crazy thing, this misprinted face wheatpasted onto the electrics box is the most compelling image for me. Caught on its way to disappearing, the image barely made it to the paper to begin with. And what about the painted over sticker to its right?

Below, Google Maps gives us our gallery prior-to. I think this was shot in the summer of 2009; at least, that’s Google’s copyright hangin’ in the screenshot for timing’s purposes. You’ll notice, too, something was erased from that transformer box I like so much. That’s the way it is here, ordinarily, for the locals. Shepherd got privilege. Don’t think I didn’t notice.

14th & E Carson Pittsburgh PA