Voices Against the War

Date June 4, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Publication THE magazine

Categories Performing Arts

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"Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government when it deserves it."€
-Mark Twain

For almost eight long miserable years they've torturously abused power to line their pockets and destroy my country. They've selfishly trashed her spirit, reputation, and currency for shortsighted private gain. In a just world the American people would try and convict them for treason.

Naida Seibel's The War Planners embodies them well. Carved in wood and painted, they stand half as tall as a person. Most hold either cocktails or weapons in their bloodstained hands as they pathetically lie and send others off to kill and die. He's the executive, so this is secret, now scram. paints a similar send-up of the overweening idiocy of the oval office, this time laid down in luminous oil glazes by artist Stanley Darland. Both artists succeed, through mastery of craft, in revealing these "masters of war"€ for the weak little men they most truly are.

In the Echo Chamber of Hard Men, Diane Rolnick accomplishes a similar sense of the willed and evil ignorance of the current administration as caricatures of Dick, and George, and Donald seriously confer while sporting neckties decked out with images of American and Iraqi casualties. The three political cartoonists included here also pick up the theme of caricature. Jaime Chase's book compilations Scary Clowns and Scary Clowns II "because they won't go away"€ use scathing humor to underscore the serious stupidity of the war as do the pen-and-ink barbs of Pat Oliphant and Jonathan Richards.

Rat Pack, a mixed-media sculpture by Kawana Edwards, goes even further to depict our worst leaders ever as decrepit skeletal rodents. Such humor is a welcome, if short-term relief for the sense of misery the invasion of Iraq has brought, and in all cases, one feels the artists are creating out of the necessity for maintaining at least a semblance of sanity, theirs and ours.

The other half of the artists in this very successful, twenty-five person group show strike a more elegiac chord. Instead of laughing to keep from crying they let the horror in, and let the tears fall where they will. I've got the Red, and White and Gone to Iraq Blues by local physician Jamie Gagen is a stunning collage of media images and subtle paint that does visually what some of Bob Dylan's best anti-war songs do for your ears. The pathos extended here goes well beyond the simplicity of the artist's means. Beauty here serves truth.

Mateo Romero presents powerful paintings from his Fallujah Series based on cell phone photos of children from the scene of the war crimes committed there. Romero, like many New Mexicans, has family in Iraq, so the issues are personal. Connie Fernandeza, traditional colcha embroiderer, departs from tradition to give us the small but mighty Las Madres Dolorosas-Irak. In thick threads the sobs of these innocent women losing innocent children make themselves heard around the world.

Congratulations to Ann Hosfeld and Dee Ann McIntyre of New Concept gallery for putting together a thoughtful, witty, and well-balanced objection to our national disaster-the unwarranted invasion of Iraq. A "new concept"€ is indeed what is needed and this show points towards an art that matters. Ten percent of the sales revenues are slated for Veterans for Peace, a local non-profit that helps homeless veterans. Art saves lives.

Whether making salient points through humor or beauty, or sometimes both, Voices Against the War says that art for art's sake has run its course and that the future belongs to those bold enough to make clear their views, artistically and otherwise. Haven't we learned yet that when you stand for nothing you fall for anything? Isn't that why the rest of Canyon Road is mostly meaningless schlock?

Finally, in perhaps the strongest piece in a show of strong pieces, Marty Horowitz elegantly constructs a gold leaf and barbed wire echo of the Nazi swastika titled True Blue that makes obvious the all-too-chilling comparison. Just as the German people stood idly by as Hitler ransacked their reality, the American people are currently making the same mistake. If things don't change significantly in November (can we really wait?) then my country's tradition of government by and for the people is most definitely under mortal threat. If we aren't willing at that point to suspend "business as usual"€ and stop this embarrassing charade through non-violent objection, then we the people and we the sheeple will deserve exactly the fascism we're gonna get.

New Concept Gallery
610 Canyon Road, Santa Fe

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