Everybody Hates the Pope
Medium: Pastel and mixed media on illustration board.
Notes: Professionally framed with conservation glass
This drawing is about the violent response to the Pope’s speech regarding faith and reason. Aside from being a complete overreaction, it seems a little hypocritical to react violently to another person’s opinion while seeking to be perceived as peaceful. The portion of the Pope’s speech that is being taken out of context to defend these actions is not a direct quote of Benedict XVI, but rather a historic reference to a 7th century conversation. The Pope uses the quote in his speech to illustrate that it is unreasonable to spread faith with violence. I won’t defend his intentions to poke a finger at the Muslim faith, if that was his goal. But, the reaction backs up the quote.
The rest of the speech has more to do with the relationship between faith and reason. Benedict illustrates that being unreasonable is against God’s teachings, and devotes very little time to the discussion of the Muslim faith. He concentrates on making the point that to convert a reasonable person to one’s faith is best done by speaking well and convincingly and setting an example through one’s own actions. If we accept that faith can be spread through violence, we can justify any action as necessary to spread our own faith.
This piece was intended to address only the reaction to the speech. I do not in any way support the Pope. I tend to dislike the concept of organized religion in general and the office of the Pope specifically. That being said, I have no intention of doing work specific to religion out of respect for people who need faith in their lives. As with everything else, I think it is something to be left to individual judgment.
Justice is Served
Medium: Acrylic and ink on board.
This painting is in the private collection of Tom Milanese.
Dimensions: 24w x 28h x 2d
Notes: Framed by artist.
This painting is in response to the trial and hanging of Saddam Hussein. The idea behind this piece should be pretty straightforward. Hussein was a cruel dictator. He tortured and killed people. He had a weapons program. He intended to produce more chemical weapons. Planes and missiles were buried in the desert.
He was tried, found guilty, and hanged. Justice is served. It was the right decision and I am impressed that it was handled so well.
The visual elements of the painting are pretty obvious. No symbolism was needed. The clouds in the background represent the chemical weapons he used on the people of his country for purposes of ethnic and cultural cleansing. The text is from several articles describing Hussein as a person and as a ruler, chronicling the atrocities that he ordered or participated in directly. I originally intended to make the clouds in the background the color of the gases he used; Sarin, VX and Mustard. I decided, in the end, to go monochromatic because it makes the piece more somber and creates a feeling more appropriate to the tyranny of Saddam and the ending of his life. The frame is textured to complement the painting.
I was inspired to paint this piece because I don’t understand why terrorists and perpetrators of genocide are afforded the same sympathy as that given to the people they kill. Sometimes it seems like the world is more concerned with maintaining “peace” than providing justice for people who cannot defend themselves. I feel that the appropriate action was taken in this case. I hope that the viewer is able gain something from this painting through an examination of their own thoughts on the subject.
This painting creates a moment in time and captures the end of a terrible chapter in the history of the world.
Pour it on.
Medium: Watercolor, acrylic and paper on wood panel.
Notes: Professionally framed with conservation glass.
This painting is in response to the scandal over waterboarding and the defense of terrorists. I find it absolutely ridiculous that anyone would afford the same level of concern for the well-being of a terrorist, as for the civilians they prey upon.
I don’t like the idea of torture, nor would I want to be the person responsible for the decision or execution of torture. However, we live in a world of people who do not hold to that principle. We are dealing with people who torture and kill civilians, as well as military personnel, in an effort to advance their own power and beliefs. I do not believe that the people who participate in suicide bombings, fly planes into office buildings, shoot women from a concealed distance, or cut the head off of living people deserve the same level of compassion as the people they prey upon.
I also think the whole subject has been completely overblown. There were only three men waterboarded. These were men who were known to be terrorists and who were known to have information on future attacks. The “torture” technique a nod by the very Congress that now pretends to be scandalized. This is clearly an effort to bring Bush down even farther than he already is in public opinion. I don’t consider world opinion a valid consideration for our national security, or much else for that matter.
It is the President’s and the military’s job to protect the citizens of this country. World opinion should have no bearing on that. The civil rights of known war criminals should have no bearing on that. The subject of torture has become another convenient excuse for the actions of people who want to kill us anyway. The fact is, the “torture” worked and innocent lives were saved. No one was drowned, and there are more important issues in the war on terror than the well-being of the terrorists.
Muslims Call for “Justice” rather than “Democracy” The Wall Street Journal Monday, October 29, 2007
Still a Dangerous World The Wall Street Journal Thursday, December 6, 2007
Getting Serious About Torture By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey The Wall Street Journal Monday, October 22, 2007
Democrats and Waterboarding By Allen Dershowitz The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Waterboarding and Hiroshima By Bret Stephens The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Judges vs Jihadis By David Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey The Wall Street Journal Thursday, November 8, 2007
Of Pork and Patriotism By Brian M. Carney The Wall Street Journal Saturday/Sunday December 15/16, 2007
Waterboarding: Congress Knew The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Tortured Arguments The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, October 9, 2007
So Be It By Bret Stephens The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Tortured Logic By Collin Levy The Wall Street Journal.com March 21, 2008
The Wrong War, in the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time?
Medium: Oil on canvas.
This painting has gone through a couple of transformations since I had the original idea. It has involved a great deal of research, and has consequently been in progress for longer than usual. As a result, it doesn’t look much the original concept, but has led to more ideas for future paintings. I hope you’re looking forward to a piece on the hanging of Saddam, because I can’t wait to start it.
On first glance, everyone assumes it’s an anti-war piece. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anyone who knows me knows that I support the military and have great respect for our troops. I don’t have to tell you that I don’t get a positive reaction from my peers in the art world for my opinions, but that’s part of the fun of what I do. I obviously supported the decision to “invade” Iraq and I have yet to see where we’ve gained any profit from their oil. Iraq is one of the few things that I support out of the Bush administration and the rest is fuel for future works. And, oh yeah, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What do you call the sarin gas, artillary and the airplanes buried in the desert? I would even argue for the bullets, since you can kill alot of civilians when they don’t fight back, and the definition of mass is a whole bunch.
The painting is split into five panels, like a graphic novel, to create tension and tell a story. I also wanted the flexibility to join related panels through background imagery. In the first panel is a single man, bound, gagged and shot in the head, who has been left in the desert. Sadly, that is the fate that befell many who opposed Saddam. In the background is the bombing of Baghdad, which I tried really hard to make pretty, because I thought it was o good thing. I don’t mean to seem insensitive to the loss of innocent life, but sadly, that is a consequence of war. I think the lives that were saved, and the freedoms that have been made possible, if the people are willing to fight for them will be a fitting tribute to those who were lost. Someone had to step in and help the people who couldn’t help themselves and give them a chance to make better lives for themselves. Standing by while a crime is being committed is nearly as bad as being the oppressor.
The second panel is a graphic of Iraq with a cloud of chemical gas in the background that crosses over into the first and third panels. The map is marked with the locations of prison camps, mass executions, the use of chemical weapons, and the discovery of mass graves(and the location of suspected gravesites). The chemical cloud begins in the background of the first panel to symbolize the horrific past of Saddam’s cruelty and bleeds into the second and third to document the discoveries of his atrocities.
In the third panel, I am addressing the practice of dumping people into mass graves that seems to have been a favorite of the Hussein regime. The bodies of those who have been recovered are laid out on the desert floor in the background. In the foreground is a general pile of bones which is meant to highlight the macabre nature of Saddam’s disrespect for human life. Some of the bones are cattle, rather than human. This is in order to make an analogy between the slaughter of humans and animals as well as the disposal of those remains as if they were nothing more than animals. Throwing people into mass graves shows no respect to the victims or their families, but concern for such things didn’t seem to be of much concern to Saddam. The cloud of gas in the background symbolizes the way in which many of the victims were murdered.
The fourth panel depicts the toppling of Saddam’s statues, which was symbolic on many levels. The juxtaposition of one of his ornate palaces in the background with the statue symbolizes corruptness of Saddam’s reign and the way that he prospered while his country and it’s people suffered under him. I’m happy to say that the destruction of the statues foreshadowed the capture and subsequent trial and hanging of Saddam. On the border of the fourth and fifth panels is the rising sun, symbolic of a new day and hopefully a brighter future for the people of Iraq. At least it is an omen of better things to come, including a free election with more than one candidate on the ballot. It remains to be seen how the new government will fare, but the opportunity is there for a better future.
The last panel shows an Iraqi woman who has just voted. The sun shines upon her as she turns away from the past and looks to the future. I can only hope that it will be brighter than the past from which she and her country are emerging.