Fueled by the 2016 presidential election and events since, several Chaffee County area artists are “un-celebrating” with an art show at Howl Mercantile and Coffee in Salida Nov. 8-12.
Salida artist Brinkley Messick brainstormed briefly about the idea with Howl owner Kimi Uno before inviting others to join. “It was tough and easy – to pick artists. There are so many people to choose, but I went with a shotgun method. I used social media posts,” Messick explained.
The show, Unhappy Anniversary: Art Un-celebrating the Last 12 Months, features 10 artists whose work carries a political message about President Trump and his presidency.
Jimmy “Rocketman” Descant said he is “absolutely” trying to make a political statement. “I have been a social/political artist since I deemed myself worthy of being called an ‘artist.’”
Descant’s piece, “Malignant,” made with found objects from Salida, is “a factory and machine of Orwellian proportions.” The piece was created last December, but most of the artists produced new work specifically for the show.
Messick said he has been intentionally avoiding politics in his art, but after the Charlottesville, V.A., incident, he couldn’t avoid it any more. “It was the anvil that broke the camel’s back.”
Salida artist Mark Monroe had so many ideas initially that he had to put them out of his mind until his final idea struck him in late October. “I joined because creatives are always the first line of defense. We can get away with a lot more (in the name of art),” Monroe said. “It’s time to start pushing back – in a fun and creative way.”
The results of the election shocked Salida artist Shelby Cox. Until then, he thought “it was all a joke. I studied sociology and anthropology in college, and I thought, ‘What part of the country did I miss?’ I realized I need to start paying attention.”
But since the election, Cox said it’s also easy to “stop paying attention” because so much is happening. The attack on a New York bike path that killed eight people on Oct. 31 barely merited a reaction, he said, because, “Oh, at least it wasn’t 50.”
Salida artist Mike Buckley created a piece that says “Good Hombres” based on Trump’s proposed border wall and immigration issues, which Buckley said are “one of the worst things. Some of it can be reversed. Some of all this hate is damaging to society. Maybe some of (the hate) has just been suppressed – I think that’s a good place for it to be. Hopefully we will become more enlightened and realize it’s not acceptable.”
Buckley said he tried to make a piece in the middle, one that “wouldn’t make you mad every time you look at it.”
Immediately after the election, Cox said his ideas involved likening Trump to a chicken or a slug. But he felt those were too kitschy. Also, he felt they were insulting to the animals.
“If Hillary got elected, problems would’ve stayed under the rug. Now, everything is on the table. The stakes are higher for everybody,” Cox said.
The opening reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8. The show is a short one, ending Nov. 12 because Messick said Uno is “taking a chance as a business owner. People will not buy a piece to put in their living room but to support the movement and Howl.” A portion of sales will go to organizations “fighting the good fight.”
Other local artists contributing to the show include Monica Jacobs, Ben Knight, Brynn Ronning Sandoval, Jackson Bahn and Jimmy Sellars.
“On one hand, it’s a free country,” Buckley said, “so you can say what you think, even if it’s nuts, but hopefully there is a louder voice to reason.”