Artists Don’t Seem to Care About Freedom of Speech

Several weeks ago, I was sent an email by a friend Jimmy in California concerning the disappearance of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. There is very little information from China on the artist’s dissappearance or the reason why he is apparently being held by the Chinese government. In the weeks since Ai was spirited away, several of his peers have also been held for various reasons and lengths of time. Because Ai is an outspoken opponent of the Chinese government, there is an outcry in the Chinese art community; but very little is being said on the subject here in the United States.

I find it shameful that our art community has so little to say about an artist being arrested by his government for exposing human rights abuses. I know the Chinese government is claiming that Ai is behind on his taxes, but I think we all know better than that. Besides, from what I understand, a Chinese citizen is not to be held for more than 35 days without formal charges. Mr. Weiwei has been missing since April 3 – 64 days and counting.

Here in the U.S., with the exception of a few politicians and art elite, there isn’t much outrage on Mr. Weiwei’s behalf. The most elaborate protest I have heard of was by a Cuban artist who projected Ai’s image on the side of the Chinese consulate in NYC. It would be funny if it weren’t in response to such a serious issue. It makes me sad to think that most of the people walking by probably had no idea what the installation was about or that the Ai’s Zodiac Head sculptures are on display outside the Plaza Hotel until July 15, 2011.

Equally disappointing is the fact that I cannot get enough support for a show demanding his release to acquire a venue. I live just outside Atlanta, which is a fairly large metropolitan area, but no luck. In a country where we still enjoy freedom of speech and assembly, and even more telling – where artists can live off the government dole without censorship of their work – it makes me furious to think they can’t stand up as a whole and demand the release of someone who has been imprisoned for expressing his opinions. Given the anti-American leanings of most artists, you would expect Ai to surpass Che as their new poster child. You would be wrong.

Here in America, artists are free to ridicule, criticize and revile their government. In China, they are censored. Here in America, artists are bemoaning the suggestion that NPR, PBS and the NEA be cut back or eliminated altogether. At least one of these organizations has admitted they don’t even need the funding. In China, Ai Weiwei sits in prison.

Jimmy Arone’s silent protest at the Geffen Contemporary. Stencil by artist, THEFL.

More art by THEFL to raise awareness for Ai Weiwei’s disappearance.


Jimmy Arone’s silent protest at the Geffen Contemporary. Stencil by artist, THEFL.


More art by THEFL to raise awareness for Ai Weiwei’s disappearance.


Detail of painting at the end of Mr. Arone’s driveway. He lives down the street from a high school outside of L.A. The work was installed with the hope that some of the teenagers would make an effort to learn more. Last time I spoke to Jimmy, he said he had had a few interesting conversations about Ai’s disappearance and the importance of human rights.

Additional Reading:

A Weekend of Protests for Incarcerated Artist Ai Weiwei

Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Arrested in Latest Government Crackdown

Argument Against China Just got Stronger

Weiwei’s Conversation at the Tate Modern

Various Updates at

Ai Weiwei, Symbol of Desire for Freedom

Yahoo Search Page

Frances Byrd is the National Director of, a conservative political artist and blogger. Her art can be viewed at Frances will be representing Liberatchik at a booth at the Freedom Jamboree in Kansas City September 28 – October 2, 2011.

Where is the Outrage from the Art Community?

Where is the Outrage from the Art Community?
Frances Byrd
April 18, 2011 Conservative Action

This weekend was marked by a few protests for jailed Chinese artist and ‘citizen investigator’ Ai Weiwei.

Jimmy Arone’s peaceful protest at This weekend’s Art in the Streets @ The Geffen Contemporary (MOCA). He’s wearing a jacket stenciled by THEFL….

Please read the full article and support on Facebook and Twitter. This is something everyone should be talking about. The implications of an artist disappearing because the government doesn’t like his work are frightening at best.

Frances is the Senior Editor of Liberatchik and manages the Liberatchik FaceBook Page. She is also a conservative political artist and blogger. You can view her portfolio and additional articles at MachinePolitick. This article was written for Liberatchik.

Follow up on Ai WeiWei Post

Mr. Trump – Your Argument Against China Just Got Stronger

By: Patrick Courrielche

NOTE: Also published at Big Government.

On April 3rd, Chinese artist and citizen investigator Ai Weiwei was taken into custody by his government while attempting to fly from Beijing to Hong Kong. Initially, Chinese law enforcement would not disclose the reason, but yesterday announced they were investigating him for “suspected economic crimes.” His whereabouts are still unknown.

With the Arab world’s civil unrest in the periphery, many China critics believe the arrest of Ai Weiwei (pronounced EYE-Way-Way) is part of a recent crackdown on Chinese dissidents to stop any climate of protest from migrating into their borders. For nearly two-months, China has been arresting well known writers, human rights lawyers, and activists – making some completely vanish within their penal system. With well over a billion people under their governance, China’s leaders should fear demonstrations given their abysmal free speech and human rights record.

But the arrest of Ai Weiwei is markedly significant for one simple reason – he is one of their most prolific artists. Ai Weiwei was the “creative consultant” for the country’s iconic Beijing National Stadium – or what many refer to as China’s Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium. With the arrest of such a prominent figure, the country has sent the message to their people that no one, no matter how internationally heralded, is safe if they openly critique the government. And Ai Weiwei has done his share of criticizing…

Please follow this link for the remainder of the article: I would like to thank my friend Jimmy Arone for bringing this article to my attention. I hope you will consider passing it on.

Frances is the Senior Editor of Liberatchik and manages the Liberatchik FaceBook Page. She is also a political artist and blogger. You can view her portfolio and additional articles at MachinePolitick. This article was written for Liberatchik.

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a political artist. There’s nothing inherently special about that statement, although being a conservative makes me a bit of a pariah in the art community. I rather enjoy the difference of opinion and the conflict it often inspires. The irony of a conservative leading the avant guard in the arts is a little amusing; not that I can claim credit for such a lofty accomplishment just yet.

Another thing I enjoy as an American is freedom of speech. It’s something we take for granted most of the time. Sure, artists gripe and moan about the system and the lack of public funding or understanding for the importance of their work. Many get their panties in a twist every time someone suggests that there should be no public funding of the arts. The truth is, they have no idea how bad it could be.

Take a moment to read this article about the things a Chinese artist can expect to endure at the hands of his government if he dares to create work critical of the powers that be.

Then read this one about the city government of St. Louis trying to silence a charitable organization that is using murals to speak out about eminent domain abuse. I love this quote by the St. Louis Alderman: “If this sign is allowed to remain, then anyone with property along any thoroughfare can paint signs indicating the opinion or current matter relevant to the owner to influence passersby with no control by any City agency. The precedent should not be allowed.”

Last, here is a video of Lindsey Graham justifying the re-evaluation of free speech. Perhaps we are not so far from learning what true oppression is like after all. I didn’t realize the Constitution was just a bunch of ideas to be dispensed with at some politician’s convenience.

Frances is the Senior Editor of Liberatchik and manages the Liberatchik FaceBook Page. She is also a political artist and blogger. You can view her portfolio and additional articles at MachinePolitick. This article was written for Liberatchik.

The Modern Little Red Hen

This is from one of the radio addresses that Ronald Reagan wrote prior to his presidency. It is an interesting economic parable that still applies to our society. I came across it recently because I am reading Reagan in His own Hand.

The Modern little Red Hen

Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some gains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said, “If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?”

“Not I,” said the cow.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the pig.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Then I will,” said the little red hen. And she did.

The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. “Who will help me reap my wheat?” asked the little red hen.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Out of my classification,” said the pig.

“I’d loose my seniority,” said the cow.

“I’d loose my unemployment compensation,” said the goose.

“Then I will,” said the little red hen, and she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. “Who will help me bake the bread?” asked the little red hen.

“That would be ovetime for me,” said the cow.

“I’d loose my welfare benefits,” said the duck.

“I’m a dropout and never learned how,” said the pig.

“If I’m to be the only helpe, that’s descrimination,” said the goose.

“Then I will,” said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for her neighbors to see.

They all wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share,. But the little red hen said, “No, I cnan eat the five loaves myself.”

“Excess profits,” cried the cow.

“Capitalist leech,” screamed the duck.

“I demand equal rights,” yelled the goose.

And the pig just grunted.

And they painted “unfair” picket signsand marched round and round the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen,

“You must not be greedy.”

“But I earned the bread,” said the little red hen.

“Exactly,” said the agent. “That is the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under ur modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide their product with the idle.”

And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, “I am grateful, I am grateful.”

But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.

This article is also posted at Liberatchik.

A Farewell to Alms

By Stan Transue

Confusion does reign in Liberals’ brains
It makes them defenseless and weak
Whenever I deign to try to explain
They rebuff the wisdom they seek

They’re led by emotion, envy and greed
To sanction their brutal desires
The warnings of prudence they never heed
While stoking the class-envy fires

They claim that our rights are subject to need
While increasing their needy-ones list
They chastise those on whose labors they feed
But upon whose support they insist

They rally the poor, the ignorant masses
By saying they can live off the rich
To keep them all resting on their lazy asses
They use the same old bait and switch

In the depths of despair they call on the able
To remedy their faulty schemes
Then blame their saviors for their empty table
While maintaining impossible dreams

To the ghost of society they hold us in debt
For the good of this ghost they all strive
To steal all the money they’ve not stolen yet
To enslave us like drones to the hive

At the pinnacle of this crazy pyramid scheme
Rests the spirit of cannibalism
Our blood is to buy their utopian dream
Our bones ground to feed Communism

To restore the blessings of liberty’s vision
And stop our demise in its tracks
Expose the charade that they have permission
And give all these looters the sack

When two thousand ten comes rolling along
Your ballot can express what’s desired
Open your throat and sing freedom’s song
Tell Congress that they are all fired.

Stan’s work is available at the Habersham County Conservative Examiner and at The American Exile

This Poem was also posted at Liberatchik

Where is John Galt? #1

For those of you familiar with Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, you will know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you; for God’s sake, read the book. I’m happy to say sales have skyrocketed lately, so the kid at the local bookstore chain might actually know what you’re asking for. This book made a huge impact on me when I read it in college. I am confident in saying it changed my worldview, opened my eyes, and gave me the strength to fight for the ideas this country was formed around, rather than accept the country it has become. Fifty and some odd years after its first publication, Atlas is true now more than ever. It was the fertilizer my young mind needed to grow into the well-informed and self-motivated person that I am today. Looking back, it helped me develop a strong personal philosophy and standard of value that has led me to be a political artist and activist. Some would agree, sarcastically, that it is indeed fertilizer. I think my favorite criticism of Ms. Rand’s work and philosophy came from someone who said, her books are just written for young angst-ridden girls who have no concept of self. The small-mindedness of people will never cease to amaze me.

This drawing is the second in a series of Americana images I am working on….

The entire article is available at Modern Conservative

The Ayn Rand quotes, continued…

…very little has been said about actual life under communism, about living beings, not slogans and theories. Theories against practice…I don’t give a damn about theories. I do give a good deal about human beings…
…the individual against the collective. That problem interests me above all others in my writing…The plot of my novel is entirely fictitious. The background and circumstances which make the plot possible are entirely true.

The apparent enthusiasm for the manual worker, for the afflicted and for social justice; serves as a mask to facilitate the refusal of all obligations, such as courtesy, truthfulness, and above all, respect or esteem for superior individuals…[In regard to] Dictatorship, we have seen only too well how they flatter the mass-man, by trampling on everything that appeared to be above the common level.

Everything accepted on faith or someone else’s authority is only a warmed over spiritual hash.

…the means have become the end…

If all of life has been brought down to flattering the mob, if those who can please the mob are the only ones to succeed – why should anyone feel any high aspirations and cherish any ideals?…

Instead of preaching more collectivism, men must realize that it is precisely collectivism, in its logical consequences – a subtle, unnamed, unofficial, but still all-powerful collectivism – that is the cause of mankind’s tragedy…since collective ethics are claimed to be necessary for collective economics – take a look, gentlemen, we have those ethics already. We have them and we don’t like them; it is not a pretty picture.

The first cornerstone of his convictions is equality… all possess intrinsic value by the mere fact of having been born in the shape of men…
this talk is on a grand scale, staggering, magnificent, its bromides well hidden under the latest scientific terms, the whole worked out on a formula of saying things that sound profound until one stops to think of what exactly they mean and finds they mean nothing… beliefs are important to them only as a means to an end… he is not bothered by his inconsistencies, by the vagueness and illogic of his convictions. They are efficient and effective to assure the ends he is seeking…

Once the equality of men is established, the advantages to his type are obvious… assure him of superiority…
The liberals and humanitarians are now faced with a choice: either admit that their are differences among men more profound and irrefutable than those of money or aristocratic birth, and therefore fight for the rights and freedom of the best among men, rights and freedom which the average men do not want, do not understand and cannot use or protect, and stop the damnable preoccupation with the “poor” as such, the poor who have no distinction beyond their poverty; or – deny these ideals… bring mankind down to the level of the masses…

It’s the aggressive, imperious expressions that are awful – on these people who are supposed to stand for equality, freedom, kindness, justice, etc…

All artistic creation has a philosophy. The first condition of creation.

Did Ayn Rand have a premonition of Obama?

Some of these quotes are amazingly eerie, in their description of characters resembling Obama. Although he claims to be the agent of ‘Change’, he is quite the personification of socialist dogma. He is Elsworth Toohey in his arrogance and quest for power, and Peter Keating in his whiny
For those of you who are new to my blog, thanks for joining me. These installments are research for future paintings, and the answer to a friend’s request for more Rand.

…His thinking is muddy enough to [demand] an absolute obedience to those ideas from others, but not from himself. He isn’t above…accepting money when doing so is quite safe although not quite clean, and forgiving in his “friends” the crimes for which he would destroy an “enemy”.

He is a very prominent figure. Especially popular among the semi-literate lower classes… rather indifferent themselves, but will not tolerate any disrespect or disbelief of his authority…

He hates all successful people. A successful man, in any line, is his personal enemy. He rejoices at every failure and at the fall of every idol.

The human herds. All the gatherings of average humanity which have but one aim: to ruin all individuals and individuality, to put “we” instead of “I” everywhere, to have a herd of submissive insiders against everyone outside who “does not belong”, everyone who has the courage and conscience to walk alone. The tyranny of number, of multitude, of the average. Communism already established – unofficially.

A mob’s feeling of omnipotence is its most jealously guarded possession and therefore a dangerous thing to wound. The mob can forgive any insult or crime except one: challenging its ultimate power… but to see a man who has freed himself from it entirely, who has nothing in common with it, a man who does not need it and who openly disdains it – this is the one crime a mob can never forgive.

…He made an unintelligent speech, full of common platitudes, showing a complete lack of imagination or originality. He had the nerve to speak in defense of the people, the country, the world and soon!…

Everything centered around one idea – one propaganda – and that idea fed to the people until they mentally suffocate.

A terrific machinery crushing the whole country and smothering every bit of life, action and air.
A picture of the state, strangling the individual. A picture of the masses showing who and what those masses are, their ideas, and their rise against the unusual and higher man.

Kira: “But there is a life, a life that I saw, that I was waiting for – and I have a right to it. Who is taking it away from me and why are they doing it?”

The All-Pervading Propaganda: It’s ridiculous, far-fetched connections. Its intentionally vulgar,”popular” style and artificial bravado. Glorifying of the drudgery and the “everyday”. Its main methods: employment – enforced meetings, “social activists”, demonstrators, enforced deductions of pay for “patriotic” enterprises; and schools – enforced study of unscientific “social sciences”, a “red” angle on all activities.

The individual against society and a time when society is at its worst and makes itself felt most strongly.

Ayn Rand quotes for Muchacho

Muchacho Enfermo requested more Ayn Rand quotes and I am happy to comply. Because I am a huge fan of her writings, I have decided to do a series of paintings based on them. These quotes are from: Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman with a Foreward by Leonard Peikoff. I will not be able to post everything at this time, so expect a series.
I am posting the quotes as I will use them, so you will need to read the book to get the full context of each one. Keep in mind that my work qualifies as
propaganda and I intend to use these quotes to reinforce my own views. The imagery will, of course, do the same.

Life is achievement…Give yourself an aim, something you want to do, then go after it, breaking through everything, with nothing in mind but your aim, all will, all concentration – and get it.

…theme is that of humanity – warped by a corrupt philosophy -is destroying the best in man for the sake of enshrining mediocrity… bitterly denouncing a world that seems to have no place for heroism.

…her dominant premise is that men are responsible for the ideas they choose to take… she cites the ideas that have led to the moral corruption in the world, and her implication throughout that men choose to accept these ideas or not…

Your life, your achievement, your happiness, your person are of paramount importance. Live up to your highest vision of yourself no matter what circumstances you might encounter. An exalted view of self-esteem is a man’s most admirable quality.

Do not paint one side of the world, the polite side, and be silent about the rest; paint a real picture of the whole, good and bad at once, the “good” looking more horrid than the bad when seen together with the things it tolerates. Men see only one part of life at a time, the part they have before their eyes at the moment. Show them the whole.

…One cannot believe one thing and do another, for such a belief isn’t worth a nickle and that’s what humanity’s doing.

…men act on feelings, not on thoughts.

Show the silent terror that is life at present, the silent terror that hangs over us, chokes us, that everybody feels and nobody can define, the nameless thing that is the atmosphere of humanity.

Show that the mob determines life at present and show exactly who and what that mob is…show that all humanity and each little citizen is an octopus that consciously or unconsciously sucks the blood of the best on earth and strangles life with it’s cold sticky tentacles.

Communism, Democracy, Socialism are the logical results of present day humanity. The nameless horror of [these systems], both in their logical end and in the unconscious way that they already rule mankind.

…I want to show that there is no good at present, that the “good” as it is now understood is worse than the bad, that it is only the result, the skin over a rotten inside that rules and determines it: I want to show that all the conceptions of the “good”, all the high ideals have to be changed, for now they are nothing but puppets, slaves, and accomplices to the horrible [stifling] of life. There are too many things that people just tolerate and don’t talk about.

Show them the real, one and only horror – the horror of mediocrity.

…to be loved by the mob is an insult and that to be hated is the highest compliment it can pay you.

He half-consciously realizes that he possesses something sublime, and that he is going to be condemned for possessing it. From this – his tense, wild, ferocious attitude.

They are too small and weak to feel with all their soul – and they disapprove of such feelings… They are too small and profane themselves to know what sacredness is – and they disapprove of anything being too sacred.

A small soul choked with a poisonous ambition to dominate and crush everybody and everything…”I know that I am inferior and therefore I don’t want to let anything superior exist”. This is subconscious of course, because one of those muddy souls would never admit it to itself. Consciously it believes that “we are all equal” and defends that equality with all the jealous, greedy zeal of a bulldog that has his teeth sunk into a piece of meat; the dull despotic zeal of mediocrity that is [concerned with] the equality of those above, which it wants to pull down, and not with those below, which it [allegedly] wants to pull up.

Okay, these aren’t the most uplifting quotes, but I’m just going in order. The parallelsto modern times and political action are appropriate however. It is amazing tome how many of the problems she foresaw have come to pass, and no one cares.
I would like to know where the hell is John Galt?