IN SEARCH OF COMMON GROUND
We invite artists and the general public to join us this Sunday, June 23rd, from noon to 6 p.m. to explore a vital issue that’s been largely taken for granted in the United States in recent years: artistic freedom. Not since 1999, when President Trump’s lawyer, Rudi Guiliani, then mayor of New York, tried but failed to close down an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, on the grounds that the art to be displayed was offensive to the mayor’s situational religious beliefs, has any government, local, state or federal, in the United States successfully limited the freedom of visual artists to create and show their work.
But, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon, we’ve never had a President as vain, thin-skinned, volatile or contemptuous of the law and the courts, or as smitten by autocrats, as Donald Trump, who could, at some point, declare unflattering portraits of himself, or paintings illustrating lies he’s told, disrespectful—not of him, of course, but of the Office he holds. And, just as many Americans think burning our flag should still be a crime, an emboldened or cornered Trump might sign an executive order making disrespect for the President or Government of the United States a crime punishable by heavy fines or years in jail.
Impossible, you say? It’s actually quite possible. Nancy Pelosi would probably say the executive order was clearly unconstititional but, unless Jared were willing to testify that his father-in-law had read the Constitution and knew what he was doing, not a crime high enough or a misdemeanor serious enough to warrent impeachment. And Mitch, not wanting to risk his wife’s lucrative business deals with China, facilitated by her nearly invisible role as doyenne of Transportation, would say this was one time he agreed with Nancy, adding that the President had based the order on a well-established ancient legal principle “the Democrats couldn’t really argue with.” The principle is lese majestie and still used by autocrats around the world, most recently Vladimir Putin, who just this year made it a crime for Russians to disrespect him, his government or the Russian state itself. With one more seat on the Supreme Court and the refugee crisis at the border turning into open hostilities with Mexico, Trump might just be able to get away with it. We’ll explore this and other possible threats to artistic freedom this Sunday at CCPArt’s first Art of Politics conference.
SUNDAY, June 23:
- Noon to 3 p.m. : Artists Julian Raven, Tim Atseff and Jim Boden, whose work is currently on display at CCPArt, will give individual Artist’s Talks about their portraits of the President and why they support or oppose Trump. The artists will speak for no more than 20 minutes, leaving plenty of time for Q and A!
- 4 p.m. -6 p.m. The three artists will engage In a facilitated dialogue amongst themselves and with the audience to decide whether concern about limitations to artistic freedom is warrented and, if so, if there is sufficient common ground to issue a public statement calling attention to those concerns. ASKOK PANIKKAR will lead the discussion.
MONDAY, June 24:
- Noon to 1:30 p.m. Raven v Smithsionian National Portrait Gallery: Julian Raven will explain his reasons for filing a lawsuit accusing NPG of refusing to exhibit his portrait of Donald Trump, Unafraid and Unashamed, due to institutional bias in violation of the artist’s 1st and 5th Amendment rights. The painting at the heart of the controversy is now on display at CCPArt through the end of July.