American columnist and author William Vaughn once wrote, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” I do not count myself amongst those who always expect the worst, but this year even the Associated Press titled its New Year’s celebration coverage, “Bid Adieu to a Tough Year.” As for 2012, well, hang on to your seats… it is going to be a bumpy ride. Call me a gloomy Gus, but, watching Lady Gaga and Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg lead a crowd in a countdown for the dropping of the famed Times Square crystal ball did not exactly fill me with unbridled optimism.
Hours before the “Fame Monster” led the glitzy escapist exercise in Times Square, President Obama signed a colossal $662 billion “defense” bill that contains the so-called National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows for the arrest and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens - all without charges, legal representation, or even a trial. National Lawyers Guild president David Gespass, called the NDAA an “enormous attack on the U.S. and our heritage” and a “significant step” towards fascism. Happy New Year. While we ponder our collective future, here’s a look at a dozen selected Art For A Change web log posts from the year in passing:
1) The Broad Boondoggle (Jan. 8 )
“On January 6, 2011, Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad unveiled the architectural plans for his new downtown L.A. art museum - which will of course be named, ‘The Broad.’”
2) My Tribute to Ronald Reagan (Feb. 8 )
“As my beloved country undergoes another bout of historical amnesia that is every bit as debilitating as the Alzheimer’s disease our acclaimed 40th President was known to have suffered from, a comforting blanket of forgetfulness descends upon the land.“
3) Download Egypt Freedom Poster (Feb. 10)
Inspired by the heroic Egyptian people’s struggle for democracy against the 30-year old U.S. backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, I created a digital artwork titled ‘Freedom‘, so named because the word appears in my graphic in Arabic, Spanish, and English. My creation is dedicated to the people of Egypt, with hopes that their democratic aspirations will soon be realized.
4) Sotheby’s Orgy Of The Rich Disrupted (Feb. 16)
“Just as Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art was taking bids on yet another oh-so-expensive Warhol silk-screen, chaos broke-out in the auction hall as a dozen art activists set off alarms, shouted, screamed, and threw counterfeit money into the air.”
5) LA Punk ‘79: The Lost Linoleum Print - Pat Bag (March 26)
“In early 1979 I carved a linoleum block portrait of Pat Bag, the enchantingly sinister-looking bass player for The Bags, one of the first and most notorious late 70s punk rock bands in Los Angeles.”
6) Obama and the Budget of Sparta (April 13)
On April 8, 2011, President Obama largely capitulated to his Republican opponents on a “compromise” budget deal that will cut an additional $38.5 billion from his 2011 austerity budget.
7) An end to oil company sponsorship of the arts (April 20)
“In marking the one year anniversary of the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I signed a letter of protest along with 165 other arts professionals and activists that appeared in the Guardian on April 20, 2011. Titled Tate should end its relationship with BP, the letter calls on the Tate Gallery of London ‘to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future by ending its sponsorship relationship with BP.’”
8 ) Paul Fuhrmann’s “War Profiteer” (June 12)
“The type of artist portrayed in Paul Fuhrmann’s War Profiteer is with us today, though perhaps in far larger numbers and with a greater capacity for self-delusion. Metaphorically speaking, the most notable aspect of today’s art scene, from top to bottom, is the fashionable wearing of rose colored glasses. Fuhrmann’s admonition to the artist is more pertinent than ever.”
9) An Exorcism at Tate Modern (July 20)
“On July 5, 2011, I received word from Reverend Billy and & The Church of Earthalujah that he was taking his flock to London in order to ‘lay hands on the Tate Modern, and cast out the evil demon of BP’s oil sponsorship.’”
11) The Firing of Zahi Hawass (July 31)
“On July 17, 2011, the world’s best known Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, was fired from his position as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities.”
12) Nagasaki Nightmare (Aug. 6)
Regarding the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan.