This drawing was the initial study for a large scale angel painting that I created to help raise money to fight human trafficking. My friend Katie was gracious enough to pose for the reference photos for this project.
The painting was purchased by a good friend, and consequently, has become one of my few donated paintings to remain where I can enjoy it. Just before Christmas, it survived a large fire and I had the opportunity to restore it for its owner. It is now on loan for my booth at Don Byram Art and Antiques hosted by the Jackson County Arts Council. If you live in the area, please stop by and check it out in person.
Working Title: Give Me your Money, ‘cause I can’t sell my work otherwise
This painting was inspired by a conversation I had with a performance artist one day. The general idea was that we, as artists, have a right to ‘expose’ people to our art who would not seek it out themselves. Of course, that comes with the expectation of being paid for our work, although money is evil. The entitlement mentality reigns supreme!
I think the imagery of the painting expresses my feelings on the subject pretty well. The world owes us nothing for our art. We are not special because of our creative abilities. As with anything else, if there’s a market for a piece of art, it will sell. No government intervention is needed or appropriate. I do not support the NEA. This piece is a companion to the paintings titled: The Gaping Maw of Entitlement and Mr. Moral Superiority. Completed – 2008
Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.
As always, I am in over my head and late to post on current Liberatchik projects. The few weeks since the conference have been a blur of back-to-school shopping, follow-up from the Summit and rushing to meet a deadline for paintings I am donating to an organization that is raising awareness abouthuman trafficking.On top of that, I have local Arts Council projects, an upcoming project for the City of Commerce, a half-empty booth at Our Town Antiques that needs to get ready for Christmas, and a neglected garden. Some days I wonder what possesses me to take on so many things – then the crazy woman in my head reminds me that she doesn’t think I’m doing enough. I’m not posting all this to say ‘hey, look what I’m doing over here’, but more as a reference to those who know me directly and occasionally experience my fits of anxiety and loopy artist behavior.
First, and foremost, I would like to thank the artists who participated in the event by sending donations to help cover the cost of marketing, as well as those who sent artwork. If you haven’t stopped in to see what we have been up to in a while here at Liberatchik, we were exhibitors atSGS14 on August 2, 2014. Please take a moment after reading this article to visit and share our participating artists’ links:
The conference itself was not only inspiring to attend, but surprising in its genuine goals for grassroots activists and networking opportunities. I cannot begin to express the many ways in which Stacy Mott stood in contrast to people and organizations I have dealt with in the past. I have never met someone so nice and so dedicated to cultivating the success and corroboration of the attendees at a conference. After several grueling experiences with local groups and two frustrating trips to CPAC, the Smart Girl Summit was a welcome example of the way things can be done togenerate political and social activism.
Being the anti-social ogre that I am, I arrived early and found what I hoped would be a table where I could sit back and observe the Opening Reception without drawing attention to myself. My partner,Christopher Cook wasn’t there to keep me company or make introductions, so I felt a little out of my league. I was there to display the artwork on Saturday, after all, and not sure how to make contacts based on past experiences at such things. Shortly after I settled on a roost, Stacy walked in and she was having none of it. She promptly took me under her wing and set off across the room to make introductions and park me at a table of vibrant ladies, whom I now consider to be great friends. In fact, I ended up staying on much longer than expected after the event to hang out and eat dinner with these ladies.
Since our keynote speaker for the reception, Rep. Tom Price, was entrenched in the amnesty battle going on in DC, he was unable to attend the reception and it quickly turned into an impromptu networking/social event. No need to let an opportunity go to waste!
Amy Kremerwas asked to step up and give some brief comments to kick off the summit, in which she touched on the need for a cultural as well as political approach to restoring the American Republic. I couldn’t agree more, so I handed her aLiberatchik Artist Directoryand let her know I will be getting in touch with her to discuss what she has in mind and how we can collaborate. I’m hoping to follow up on that opportunity next week.
Saturday was the main day of the event, and I was there early with one of our Photographers,Livia Bota, to set up the exhibition space for Liberatchik. One thing I have learned about showing art in informal settings is that there is never enough time, never enough space, and I will always forget something I need event though I couldn’t possibly fit another thing in the car. All of that aside, I think our booth looked pretty good. This, my friends, is the face of Art for Liberty:
We were directly across from theFreedomWorks booth, so I had the opportunity to spend the day talking to Iris Somberg about culture and libertarian principles when we had free time. She was very enthusiastic and had wonderful suggestions for things we can do to grow and generate support for Liberatchik. I am looking forward to following up with her and writing more about that in the future. I also picked up a copy of Matt Kibbe’sLibertarian Manifestoand am working my way through it now. I will post a review as soon as I finish.
It turned out that I had very little time to hang out with Iris, because the Liberatchik booth generated so much interest in our artwork. I was surprised by the level of interest and enthusiasm for our art, and even more so, by sales of some of the pieces at our booth. The day flew by, and I didn’t have a chance to attend any of the panels or speeches, but I could here Herman Cain’s booming voice as he gave the keynote address; as well as the enthusiastic response of the attendees. One thing is certain, people were there to make a difference, and I am confident many of them are working on their own goals as we speak.
In closing, I would like to thank the following people for their support and generosity during the event: Stacy Mott, Teri Christoph, Tami Nantz, Rosa Leonetti, Sandy Chiong, Victoria Casares, and Candi Goldman – Smart Girls Rock!
** Some of them also went home with Art for Liberty!
I have partnered with a local antique store to open a mini-gallery offering a new line of primitives, hand-painted signs and painted furniture, as well as my paintings. Who would have thought I was too political for the big-city art scene, but it appears I needed to move to the ‘middle of nowhere’ to generate support for my work.
I have been very encouraged and flattered by the level of curiosity and support I have been given since moving here and becoming established as a local artist. I have met people on the street who have heard of my work and been welcomed to the store by other shop owners on main street. It proves, yet again, that those nasty stereotypes we like to cling to are often quite misplaced – country folk aren’t simple or ignorant, and they do like art and welcome it in their community, as long as its purpose is not to offend them. I am looking forward to sharing more stories as I become established in the community.
Please check back for my interview with Katie Lynn Griffin of The Paper.
If you’re in the Athens area, take a 20 minute detour up to Commerce and stop in at the shop to see my new work and the wonderful collection of antiques, vintage items and folk art on display at Our Town Antiques.
I sold a painting!!
Spinning with the Winds of Change
Medium: Oil on canvas.
This painting is a companion piece to Empty Behind the Mask(2005). Both were started at the same time, but this was my favorite of the two and was finished more quickly. This piece is also a dig at Kerry’s lack of integrity or consistency. The full rant can be found with the other painting. I have included a few more articles for background on this piece.
As another Memorial Day approaches, I find myself dwelling more and more on the concept of personal Liberty. Of course this ideal is forefront on a daily basis for those of us concerned with the ever-intrusive nature of our government. But, how many of us are thinking about Liberty in terms of its cultural significance?
The left has a plethora of symbols from the iconic Che photo, the clenched fist and the Anonymous/OWS graphics, the Coexist icons to the peace sign. The right gravitates primarily to the American or Gadsden flags and American eagle as icons. These symbols are great for patriotic themes, but are easily demagogued, primarily because we have allowed them to be defined by the Left, as nationalist and politically devisive symbols.
Liberty as a Human Rights Icon
For those of us trying to inject a libertarian or conservative view into American culture, Liberty is an under-utilized icon for positive representation of individualism and human rights in the fine art community. The left is not only tearing down national symbols like the American flag, they are also working to tear down icons of personal Liberty through cultural means:
Street art by unknown artist in L.A.
The tired labels the Left attributes to all views other than their own do not apply to the concept of liberty. As the street art above clearly indicates, they will still find ways to demagogue anything representative of the individual. This is because, Leftism/Statism is at its core, an ideology based on the use of force. If one advocates for the use of force, it becomes necessary to denigrate and demonize the individual. The Left has been doing this for generations with little or no cultural counterbalance from the Right. That is why it is crucial for those of us creating a cultural alternative to not only develop the symbol of Liberty as an icon for the individual, but as an icon for human rights – another concept we have long ceded to the left. We need only produce good works of art that are capable of injecting this concept into popular culture.
Liberty has the potential to become a universal as well as national icon; for individual Liberty is, at its core, a human right.
I finally made it out to the theater over the Easter weekend to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was suitably surprised and impressed by it’s predecessor, and the related Avengersfilms, to make an exception to my general distaste for viewing most things Hollywood. Add to that, my general enthusiasm for all things super-hero and the fact that I have a pre-teen aged son, and it was practically inevitable that I would carve some time out of my schedule to give it a go.
Happily, The Winter Soldier eschews the sappy patriotism one might expect from a film centered around a character from the Greatest Generation. Overall, it’s a good action film, and nothing else need be said. But, being a political artist myself, I tend to view art and entertainment through a lens of my own perspective – as do most when scrutinizing art, whether they like to admit it or not. For those of you who simply enjoy your films at face value, and couldn’t care less about the deeper meaning(or my take on it), here is where you would likely move on to the next review. However, having read several reviews that clearly took the opposing stand, I feel quite justified in a little deconstructionism, if you will. Feel free to jump into the comments with your own perspective, as I plan to watch the movie at least one more time before laying my opinions to rest.
Captain America’s character becomes a bit more complex in The Winter Soldier than it was in The First Avenger, though it stays true to character. A dichotomy develops as we get to know Romanov’s character better. Nick Fury is dead, then not dead; trusted, then suspect. The obvious bad guys are the politicians, mercenaries and pirates scattered throughout the movie. The less obvious villains occupy all sides of the struggle, swimming in a grey area of philosophy and morality, or lack thereof – perpetrated in the interest of the ‘greater good’. The fate of several million people hinges on the success of an impossible mission involving Captain America, Romanov and The Falcon. The heavy, staccato beat of the music punctuates the more intense action scenes, creating an appropriately tense mood.
Libertarian themes abound throughout the movie, though some would prefer to call them fundamentalist paranoia. The Winter Soldier is a victim of the machinations of a power-hungry elite, bent on the establishment of a New World Order, who will use any means necessary to achieve their ends. People become statistics; their lives subject to elimination if their actions or thoughts are deemed inappropriate by the powers that be. Both sides of the conventional power structures are culpable. It is no surprise, of course, with Joss Wedon playing a part in the revival of the Marvel/Avengers genre. Geeks like me have long been fans of Firefly, his cult classic depicting space cowboys as the underdogs to an oppressive Alliance.
Of course, the plot, like life and war, is not black and white. It is subtle, yet complex, and the messaging does not beat you over the head. In fact, many viewers might ask, what the heck am I talking about. They just enjoyed the film. And that is as it should be. That is, in fact, much to its credit.
Captain America is the quintessential conflicted soldier. He fights for his nation because he believes in her values and principles, but he has come to realize that the people giving the orders can’t always be trusted – even when you like them, or think you should. He has given up everything in service to his nation, only to realize that the lines have blurred and his mission is no longer clear – at least as it is presented by his superiors. Much of the underlying struggle centers around his efforts to understand how different this new century he was thrust into is from his own, and why he was brought here to fight a war he doesn’t know enough about to understand which side he should be on.
The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, is purely a tool – emblazoned with a bold red star on the mechanical arm which becomes, as the movie progresses, a symbol of his degradation by the elite who control him. I can’t help being reminded of a similar tool in the person of Che Guevara, but I digress. Unfortunately, The Winter Soldier also turns out to be Captain America’s childhood friend and combat partner, Bucky – long thought dead, but cruelly resurrected by the enemy as an assassin and catalyst for the implementation of their totalitarian utopia.
We are left, not unexpectedly, with questions unanswered and the promise of a sequel at the end. I am happily looking forward to the next episode in the story of Captain America and The Winter Soldier.
“… to the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971
Alinsky’s dedication at the beginning of Rules for Radicals is telling of his personal morality and ultimate goals. Those who blindly follow the current purveyors of his philosophy, within our government, higher learning institutions and social organizations, would do well to examine his/their true motives and the consequences of following in the footsteps of a man who would pay homage to the ideological embodiment of evil.
There is no need to put words in Alinsky’s mouth or take his ideas out of context. There is no need to spin his philosophy like some two-bit mainstream journalist. Alinsky’s words speak clearly for him and his intent in all their wretched meaning. For this reason, several of his quotes were utilized in the under-painting for The Revolutionary Halo of (Social)Justice.
This painting is part of an ongoing series based upon stylized American Crow iconography I am developing. Though the series started out as an illustration of the OWS movement, it quickly grew to encompass progressive thought in general as well as the societal and individual consequences of its implementation.
(Social)Justice is an allegorical portrait of Saul Alinsky, one of the most influential progressives in American history. In Rules for Radicals, he laid the groundwork and strategy for an all encompassing transformation of American thought and culture across institutional, economic and social boundaries. This painting attempts to capture the essence of those ideas.
The Progressive Tactic of Fomenting Despair
Early in the book, Alinsky quotes Dostoyevsky: “… Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future…”
Do you see a connection between these ideas and the current events sweeping America today? This quote by Dostoyevsky, as used by Alinsky, points to an agenda that encourages people to disregard the historic failures and precedents of statist ideology and its implementations across the globe. It encourages one to turn a blind eye to the deliberate destruction and loss of life at the hands of an elitist few. It then calls for a blind faith in the motives and power of that elite few rather than in individual responsibility and participatory self-governance.
The Common Good
“The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people”.
With this quote, we start to see how the progressive movement started to change the people’s knowledge of America as a representational republic, to a belief in America as a democracy. This is based on an agenda of steering the populace toward support of mob rule, which devolves into tyranny and a dependence on the state for structure and support. The old saw goes: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people begin to take it as truth”. Like the raucous caw of a crow, the populist mantra silences the voice of reason.
What is the goal of this redefinition of terms and intentional deception? First, it is anti-individual and purposefully vague in order to allow the elitist controlling class to redefine terms of duty and sacrifice as being for the common good. It softens the populace to the idea of redistribution of goods and services based on impact toward the common good. And, the very vagueness of the idea, gives those in control the ability to change course and redefine these very terms as needed.
People will rally behind the ideas of freedom and justice, even when they are denied these institutions themselves. The challenge and the power come in presenting an agenda in a way that appeals to the emotions first; to make people feel disenfranchised, victimized and entitled to compensation. Once this is achieved, it is a small step to organize them into an activist mob disinterested in the moral implications of their actions.
In fact, Alinsky goes so far as to consider moral concerns a bourgeois affectation; impracticable in the real world. His approach builds on Hobbes’ belief that men are essentially savages in a brutish world. But, rather than merely suggest that a leviathan state is the only method with which to control the vagaries of barbarism, he encourages his followers to take advantage of their collective barbarity at the expense of society.
Quotes in the Painting
I have incorporated some pop culture references and direct quotes from Rules for Radicals in the under-painting. Upon closer examination, the more relevant portions show through, inviting the viewer to step up and examine the painting closely. Of course, the crow stands alone as a piece of art, so it is not particularly relevant for you to know what it means. What it does is engage you directly as a means to open dialogue on the subject portrayed in the painting. The Revolutionary Halo of (Social)Justice is intended to inspire a closer examination of Mr. Alinsky’s model for social destruction and reformation. I leave you, for now, with some quotes from the under-painting.
“Some men can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Alfred, The Dark Knight 2008
“…if one lacks the luxury of a choice and is possessed of only one means, then the ethical question will never arise…” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971
“To me, ethics is doing what is best for the most”. – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971
While clipping news articles for some upcoming mixed media projects, I came across this cartoon:
You and I may find it absurd; but we are not the target audience.
This cartoon is from the Athens Banner Herald in Georgia (hometown to the University of Georgia). As one might guess, Athens is your average college town; primarily liberal in mindset. Athens is also closely surrounded by a smattering of small suburbs and low-income areas before reverting to its rural/agrarian heritage, where people think of Athens in terms of football and ag programs – and little else.
Ironically, it is know-it-all college kids on their high horses of progressive indoctrination who will be among those most surprised, and directly effected, by the gargantuan health care law’s implementation. The average estimate projects that young Americans will see a 260% increase in premiums under the ACA, even though those same young Americans voted for democrats and a president, in part, to push this law through on the rest of us.
To be fair, some of the low-income voters and farmers in the area may have thought the bill a good idea as well, before it was passed so they could see what was in it. Perhaps they were under the impression that some evil rich guy would be paying for their healthcare henceforth and all their worries would come to an end. What a nasty surprise all of these unintended consequences must be for them.
So, why then, do we have a local paper bothering to print a cartoon ridiculing Cruz for his opposition to the ACA? If the Herald is preaching to the choir, what’s the point?
The point is, many in the choir have changed their tune, and their song has become discordant. Some people, who were perfectly happy to ignore the consequences for the rest of us as long as they thought they would be exempt, have woken up. Unfortunately for them, they have awakened to the reality of government mandated healthcare.
Rules for Radicals, or Those Merely Pretending to Be
So, amidst all of the policy debates and emotional bickering, what is the significance of one cartoon? We must defer to the wisdom(evil) of Saul Alinsky for understanding on these points.
First, it is designed to ridicule a Senator for doing his job: defending the constitution, as well as, the rights and concerns of his constituents. As I have explained in several previous articles, progressives use derision and character assassination to destroy the credibility of their opposition. True or not, fair or not, this tactic works. Once you consider a Senator a clown, are you really going to listen to anything he has to say?
For Progressives, and some GOP establishment cronies, it is enough to call Cruz a clown and consider the discussion over. That’s fine if you’re exempt from the law you passed in the first place; but what about the rest of us? For those of us who are not receiving exemptions or subsidies, the ACA is a question of constitutionality and economic impact… whatever the Supreme Court may say to the contrary. (For a more lengthy explanation of these points, I refer you to the Federalist Papers and Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments).
Secondly, this cartoon is a perfect example of how progressives use culture, however insignificant, to push their agendas. You may pass a mere cartoon off as inconsequential if you even notice it at all. You may not consider it art and wonder the point I am making.
A cartoon may not be fine art, but it does have cultural significance – even more so based on its ability to reach a broader range of viewers through mass publication. Is it likely to change the minds of people like me who support Cruz? No. But it may plant a seed of doubt in the minds of people on the fence about the law. It will certainly bolster the resolve of the law’s supporters, justifying their subsequent reactions to and treatment of those in opposition.
Did you notice the Freudian slip and the irony contained within this cartoon? Uncle Sam is ill, but his cure won’t come from big government intrusion in the lives of its citizens. Besides, he’s old. It’s likely he’s not eligible for anything beyond end of life counseling and painkillers – while there’s still funding for such things.
Where’s the Conservative Alternative?
While some members of congress and the conservative media are taking a stand, where is the conservative art community on this issue? You wouldn’t know outside of Ramirez’sandBranco’scartoons because very few are giving a cultural approach a second thought on our side. Nobody with any mass influence, anyway. (That’s a subject for a future article of some length.)
Once again, our side is turning its back on one of the most influential and readily available means to effect policy debate in America. The results for our future are both disastrous and predictable.