TO MAIN ART GALLERY
People Under Command:
Acrylic on unstretched canvas.
6' x 8' ft.
A People Under Command traveled throughout Europe
as part of, Fundamental, an international art exhibit
that explored totalitarian religion at the turn of the
21st century. The show toured 4 European cities between
September 2007 and June 2008, and offered a timely glimpse
into the disturbing world of global religious extremism.
painted this surreal street scene during the second half
of the Ronald Reagan presidency. The large unstretched
canvas both documented the time and foretold of things
to come. It's unnerving to me that the painting has a
new, chilling, relevance in our post Sept. 11th world."
the 1980's there was an upsurge in militarism and
its popularization in American culture. From army
camouflage becoming - for the first time -
acceptable casual wear (with civilian versions of
the fighting uniform sold in large department stores),
to the romanticization and glorification of war in
Hollywood movies and television shows. My painting
warned of a population completely embracing the ethos
of military institutions. The
hysterical anti-communism of the cold war reached
its zenith in the dozens of pro-war Hollywood films
that flooded the US market in the 80's.
the 1984 film Red Dawn, starring Charlie Sheen
and Patrick Swayze, Soviet and Cuban troops invaded
and occupied the US. Invasion USA, released
in 1985 and starring Chuck Norris, also told of the
US under the heel of cruel Soviet occupiers and their
terrorist allies. But
it was the first Rambo film released in 1985
that truly represented the triumph of martial culture
in Hollywood. Everywhere in America, walls were plastered
with Stallone's Rambo movie poster - so I included
the image in my nightmare vision."
A People Under Command - Detail of Rambo movie
poster on the street. ]
got the name for my painting while watching a fundamentalist
preacher performing a religious song on television
titled, A People Under Command. Oddly enough,
down the block from my studio a Church had painted
black the cross on their rooftop.
included that ominous Church steeple in my artwork
as a sign of alarm over the rise of a right-wing Christian
A People Under Command - Detail of America's
new skyline. ]
newspaper vending machine included in my painting
represented the corporatization of media as exemplified
by the then fledgling USA Today. That paper
actually ran a front page photograph of a rosy cheeked
Ronald Reagan with the headline: "I'm the
knew then that journalism in America had taken a nose
dive from which it would never recover, and that I
had to paint that particular paper into my canvas.
USA Today also serves as the alternative title
to my painting."
A People Under Command - Detail of a newspaper
vending machine, with Reagan declaring, "I'm
the Boss." ]
I created my painting in 1985, the US Invasion of Panama
had not yet taken place. The first Gulf War with Iraq was
on the distant horizon, and only a handful of Americans
had ever heard of a place called Kosovo. Most Americans
had not yet become aware of the growing right-wing militia
movement taking root across the US, but in 1995 the name
of Timothy McVeigh would become seared into the national
when the Oklahoma City Federal
Building was destroyed in a devastating blast that took
the lives of 168 people.
after the horror of September 11th and the occupation of
Iraq, we face an open ended 'war on terrorism' and a further
militarization of American life. In August of 2003 the German
magazine ZIVIL published a spread on my painting,
calling it 'an outstanding example of political art'
and 'a prohetic vision for the era of George W. Bush.'"