Censorship, freedom of speech and art is nothing new, the only confounding aspect to censorship these days is our President Donald Trump, who says so many (to me) racist, deragtory remarks that I can’t believe no one has put together a class action lawsuit to take down his twitter account. Yes- I understand the irony of my words. To have a man elected who said he just “grabs women by the Pussy,” still makes zero sense to me. Donald Trump, to me is 100% vile, distasteful, uncouth… all the words coming to my mind still seem to elegant to describe such a troll- yet, the American people voted him as our president and I am asked everyday, “Did you hear what Trump said today?”
Artist Matt Daughtery will be showing his paintings this Friday night at the Dinah Washington Center, for Downtown Tuscaloosa’s First Friday Gallery hop. His censored pieces are hanging in my store’s window. Matt fully acknowledges that when he accepted the show at the Dinah Washington arts center, they agreed to show an entirely different body of work.
So my show is up at The Dinah Washington Center, but we ran into a little snag. Two paintings were a little too inappropriate for them, so they are hanging in the window at Grace Aberdean Habitat Alchemy just a few blocks over. I felt really bad for a minute, because the two censored pieces are sort of the pillars of show and they tie a lot of the other pieces together, but in the end it’s flattering, I guess. I’ve really only cared about making work that is relevant. I’m not trying to piss anyone off, but if a piece is rejected because it might, then it might be relevant. Also, it’s not the work they signed up for. I was given the slot there months ago on good faith, planned to show work about the tornado and then I showed up with a completely different body of work. I feel grateful to be showing there. It’s a beautiful facility. The opening is Friday from 5 to 8.
Matt asked if he could hang the paintings at my store in the window, knowing we don’t participate in July or August First Friday’s (I’m tired people! I like to take a break and scheme! I mean make plans for the coming year!) He said, “Jamie, we will have an art drive through.”
I have always been a little self conscious about my vocabulary. I always feel that I could’ve picked a better word to portray my feelings or what I’m trying to say- this is what happens when you surround yourself with super geniuses (thanks UA!) and I feel very fortunate to be able to surround myself by such wonderful, well versed people! When working with artists, it runs the gambit of, “beats the shit out of me.” To, “Here is 20 pages of what I was thinking when I made this.” When I ask an artist about their work. I’m beyond pleased to have this as Matt’s response when asked about the censored work.
The Machine (title)
The trump painting changed on me a bit. It was never really meant to be a literal painting of Donald Trump. It was part of an uncompleted body of work about happy people partying , but I was miserable at the time so I never could finish it. It sat behind my dresser in my bedroom on the floor for like four years and I fished it out when I started this body of work and I was like “Damn! That really looks like Melania.” At some point I started thinking about what retro styled frat parties would look like in 20 years. Like when some frat has a “2010’s party” are kids going to dress up like politicians because this election cycle was so crazy? I had the bones of the painting already, I just changed the costumes, so to speak. I posted a picture of the painting midway through and people seemed confused as to why Donald Trump looked so young, but someone else commented that they thought the blonde in the pussy hat was Tiffany Trump and I googled her and was like “omgeeeesus… it does look like her.” The piece to me was about political corruption, which in Alabama, seems to so often start the The Machine, which is directly affiliated with the Greek system at the University of Alabama. It was then I realized I could eliminate the whole problem of the kid dressed as Donald Trump, not looking exactly like Donald Trump and clarify concept if I just obscured his face with the Mardi Gras mask from the photo of Lee Garrison that emerged in the 2012 tuscaloosa city school board election. Adding the mask was the last thing I did, I thought it was finished for a little while before that. That entire piece was so serendipitous.
Golden Girl (title)
That piece is a reference to a Goya painting. “Saturn Devouring his children.” It’s an old painting about being so ambitious that you’re willing to eat the competition. There also a reference to pedophilia allegations heaped at John Podesta, her campaign chairman after the Wikileaks’s. I’ve shown this painting to people and some have said “True. She is evil.” Some see it in a completely ironic way and read it as “if you are a woman and you are politically ambitious and perceived as a little bitchy and you are pro choice, you might as well be a baby eater.” I like that. That it can go either way.