Friday, September 21, 2012

Political Artist: Michael D'Antuono

Scrolling through the world wide web, I very recently came across the artist Michael D'Antuono. He is a New York based oil painter who is known for his controversial takes on social and political issues. UK's 'American' magazine even labeled him "one of the world's most controversial artists." Working in an advertising agency in his early life and as an illustrator for 25 years, he didn't start his fine arts career until later. Listening to the news channel in his studio, he was inspired to paint "The Truth", which became one of his most controversial paintings. D'Antuono's intent of the piece was to show how we all view things differently and distorted through a political lens, to show how our nation has become extremely divided. The piece was certainly effective in that matter, receiving more than 4,000 emails, most from the Christian right that believed the piece was blasphemy.

The Truth

Here is a look at some of his other paintings, or check his work out on his website:

Small Government
"This piece points out the corporate ecstasy of an affordable government small enough to fit in their pocket. Like small-time criminals want a police force too small to catch them, corporations want a government too small to regulate."

Murder by Media
"The political environment today is awash in an unprecedented lack of civility. The 24-hour news media (as well as some of our leaders) promote their agendas with a no-holds-bared approach. Disguised as unbiased news sources, they spew deception and promote fear. Their daily hate-mongering and demonization of their opposition demoralizes our society and faith in our government."
American Pie
"No matter which administration you choose to blame, we can all agree that it seems our government represents the interests of corporate rich. Instead of prosecuting those who greedily and carelessly put our country in economic ruin, they rewarded them with no strings attached billions."
Occupying Main Street
"He needs no crowd, no chant, no sign, for basking in the comfort of his luxurious office he rules Main Street and all the other streets in the land."
Down and Outsourced
By the thousands jobs are being outsourced to India, Hong Kong, The Peoples Republic of China, Panama, Manila, The Philippines; and many other countries. Since 1986, 15 million high-paying manufacturing jobs have left the the American workforce. Any job that can be performed in another location, preferably outside of the realm of American wages and work-related laws, are going."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1968 Democratic National Convention

Chicago Police charged demonstrators during the 1968 DNC. The officer in the photo actually sued The Times and Life magazine, and Barton Silverman, the photographer.  

With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions of 2012 just passing, I want to take a look back at what was happening in our nation over four decades ago during one of the most famous national conventions in history. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was held at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that we would not be seeking reelection again, so the convention was held to select new presidential nominees for the Democratic Party's candidate. Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Edmund Muskie were the nominees for President and Vice President. This period in our nation was a time of great violence, political turbulence, and civil unrest. Over 100 riots occurred in different cities throughout the nation. The 1968 DNC followed the assassinations of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year. The convention that year in Chicago was notorious for many large demonstrations and riots by "Yippies" protesting for free speech and anti-war, and famous for the use of force by the Chicago Police Department. Barton Silverman, a staff photographer for The Times, captured the violence in Chicago, and he was actually arrested by the police for doing his job. This wasn't the first time he captured the violence in the American streets during the 1960's, covering many other riots that took place during those years.      

Read more and see more photographs at the New York Times: Lens

Protestors forming a human pyramid in Grant Park
Barton Silverman, center, in police wagon, after being arrested

Dueling Ads

Campaign television commercial advertisements were recently released by both Romney and Obama concerning the United States and China relations, each blaming the other for sending more American jobs there.

The Romney ad claims that under Obama we have lost half a million jobs, and Obama could have stopped this seven different times but refused to do so. It says that Obama has failed to stop China's cheating. According to a post in the New York Times, the ad is supported by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that shows manufacturing unemployment at 12.5 million in January 2009 down to 12 million in August, in which those jobs where lost during the recession. It fails to mention that there have actually been hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs created and added since 2010, which brought a little light during those hard times. The comment on China's cheating refers to the Treasury's Department's decisions (under both Obama and Bush administrations) to not label China a currency manipulator. Romney says he will change that, and some Republicans are alarmed that this will make tensions high between China and the U.S.

The Obama ad claims that Romney's companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas. It then says some of Romney's fortune is invested in China, and that all he is doing is sending them jobs. The use of the word "pioneer" has caused some controversy because that would actually mean that his companies (Bain Capital) were making way for other companies to send jobs overseas to China, referencing that Bain was making an industry trend at the time, which is not true. The claim that Romney's fortune is tied to China is true. However, it doesn't mention that Romney had no action in that. It was reported that, "a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company."

The facts that campaign advertisements use may be true information, but what I have learned is that there is always vital information left out of them. This certainly occurs through both parties, and this is a prime example. If you want the real truth behind dueling campaign ads then you have to do the research on which statistics are being fudged just to make the candidate look good and make the opponent look bad. It's really simple actually, don't truly believe anything you see. It's all PROPAGANDA.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


One of the most famous, or infamous, graffiti artists goes by the name Banksy. He (?) is a pseudonymous England-based artist, political activist, film director, and painter. His trademark is a stencil-style guerrilla art of political and social commentary that has been featured on streets, walls, and bridges in cities throughout the world, first making his presence known in London, Brighton, and Bristol. There has been much publicity and controversy surrounding the artist because Banksy's true identity has never really been known, becoming a guarded secret. There has been much speculation and research to figure out who this artist(s) actually is. Banksy states on his website, "I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being 'good at drawing' doesn't sound like Banksy to me." Critics have described his work as simple vandalism. The works have dealt with many political and social issues such as anti-War, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, anti-authoritarianism, anarchism, and existentialism. They also deal with the human conditions of greed, poverty, hypocrisy, boredom, despair, and alienation. Banksy's work mocks central power, with hopes that it will show the public that although power does exist and work against you, that power is not terribly efficient and it can be and should be deceived.  

Continue to see more graffitti

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

28,003 TPM

According to Twitter, Romney/Ryan and the GOP have their hands full now. Of course, twitter is the basis for everything these days, right? Tweets Per Minute (TPM) definitely holds more value and significance than any other poll, duh. With that said, Michelle Obama's speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte peaked at 28,003 TPM. That nearly doubles Mitt Romney's TPM during the RNC last week, peaking at 14,289. Also, considering 20 percent of television viewers named Clint Eastwood's speech at the RNC a convention highlight compared to only 17 percent from Mitt Romney's acceptance speech, they better hit the trail hard these last few months. 

Political Animals

When scanning through the 2012 Republican National Convention's photostream on Flickr, I came across some images of the Republican elephant, the political animal that is used to symbolize the GOP. Then I realized that I wasn't aware of where this symbol came from or what exactly it even means. After some research, I found out that the republican elephant as well as the democratic donkey were made famous by a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, in the late 1800's. The donkey was first associated with democratic party in Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign in 1828. Jackson's opponents actually referred to him as a jackass, and Jackson decided to jokingly use the animal on campaign advertisements. Nast later used the donkey in political cartoons.

Nast's first use of the elephant to represent the GOP came in the November 7, 1874 edition of Harper's. Nast had strong republican foundations, but he became frustrated with the party during the 1870's, which is evident in "Third Term  Panic". The cartoon depicts a donkey in lion's skin scaring off other animals, among them the elephant, and this was meant to represent the democratic scare tactics of the time. The cartoonist continued to use the elephant to represent the Grand Ol' Party. Today, it is not exactly known why these political animals continue to be so popular, maybe because of Nast himself.

Thomas Nast, "Third Term Panic". 1874