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“Art as Protest”
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art [OCCCA], Santa Ana, California
Recommendation by Liz Goldner

Kelly Johnston, “Thank You Planned Parenthood,” 2017

Continued through July 8, 2017

Is this exhibition preaching to a choir of people opposed to the current President? Are the artists in this show also members of that choir? Yes and yes, making “Art as Protest” a cathartic experience, a salve for art lovers and artists whose dismay at our political state of affairs reaches previously unknown heights. The show further gives artistic and collective voice to the people who refuse to let down their guard about the fears that this implies. As curator Tyler Stallings, states: “Change does not come from above, not even from below but, rather, it emerges when enough voices coalesce in a public space and create a loud, collective voice that cannot be ignored.” 


“Protest" is comprised of a large variety of works that are at times familiar, at time surprising in their messages and execution. Eric Michael Rauseo’s mixed media painting of gold stripes against a black ground, is a parody of the American flag. Its title, “Liberty and Justice for Gold” is a simple allusion to how far we have come in our love for money rather than country. Ruben Esparza’s assemblage “Queer Signs of the Times, 1965-2017” is an amalgam of LGBT protest signs. It includes buttons and posters proclaiming “DYKE” and “Legalize Love” that suggest protest can indeed make a difference. “Dividing The Spoils,” a painting by Chris Lowell, depicts suited businessmen with animal heads, reminiscent of characters from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” The artist says that the figures are “getting ready to feast on the remains.” Among the many Trump-themed pieces in the show is the print, “Resist,” by David Koeth, featuring the President with a Communist symbol on his tie and the word “resist” in Russian. Joseph Donnison’s “Locker Room Talk” portrays a naked, flabby Trump in a locker room, alongside Putin wearing a towel, a Russian oligarch and the devil. One of the most disturbing works is Debra Broz’s 6-inch high ceramic sculpture, “'I just start kissing … I don't even wait,'” with a red-faced Trump trying to kiss an alarmed anthropomorphic pussycat.

Orange County Center for Contemporary Art | OCCCA

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