Political Prints Pull No Punches at Juan R. Fuentes Gallery

"Mein Trumpf" is a screenprint by Malaquias Montoya in the show "Creation and Resistance" at the Juan R. Fuentes Gallery in San Francisco

'Mein Trumpf' is a screenprint by Malaquias Montoya in the show "Creation and Resistance" at the Juan R. Fuentes Gallery in San Francisco. (Photo: Courtesy of Juan R. Fuentes Gallery)

The presidency of Donald Trump has motivated artists like never before. Some have responded with nuanced images that probe the divisions of our age, others with more sharply satiric caricature.

That’s especially true for printmakers, whose art is often a tool for political activism.

“The graphic quality of printmaking tends to make a statement more quickly than a lot of other media,” said artist, teacher and self-described “instigator” Art Hazelwood, standing the other day in the tiny Juan R. Fuentes gallery at Acción Latina in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Fernando Marti's etching "This Machine Kills Fascists" is a critique of President Trump and a tribute to folksinger Woody Guthrie, who famously displayed those words on his guitar in the 1930s.
Fernando Marti’s etching ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ is both a critique of President Trump and a tribute to folksinger Woody Guthrie, who famously displayed those words on his guitar in the 1930s. (Photo: Courtesy of Acción Latina )

The exhibit Hazelwood co-curated with Fuentes, Creation and Resistance: Printmaking in Dark Times, is on display through April 7. Hazelwood and Fuentes began contacting artists for the exhibit a year ago, although many of them are showing work created just in the past few months, as a response to the election.

David Avery did four etchings for the show 'Creation and Resistance' at Acción Latina
David Avery made four etchings for the show ‘Creation and Resistance’ at Acción Latina. (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

Take David Avery’s hand-colored etching, The Year of the Rooster. The World Wants to be Deceived.

It’s an image of a limp penis sporting a fan of peacock feathers. Avery said it’s meant to symbolize the President, and satirize his self-aggrandizing style and history of harassing women.

Fernando Marti -"American Flag Color" is part of the show 'Creation and Resistance'
Fernando Marti’s ‘American Flag Color,’ part of the show ‘Creation and Resistance.’ (Photo: Courtesy of Acción Latina )

“This was my reaction, as quick as I could do it,” said Avery, “It’s another way of looking at the emperor with no clothes.”

Avery is one of 11 printmakers in the show, all of whom take a left-leaning perspective on current events.

“I’m 65 and I don’t think, ever in my lifetime, I’ve seen anything as bad as things are with President Trump in office,” Avery said. “We have fascism in America. You can’t sit by and just make art, unless it addresses what’s going on.”

Active and even bloody resistance to President Trump is represented by Jos Sances’ screenprint with watercolor, Judith Slaying Holofernes, a take on a baroque masterpiece by the female artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

In Sances’ version, Trump takes the role of an Assyrian general whose head was cut off by the biblical hero Judith, the woman he lusted for. The print bears the tongue-in-cheek caption, “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is completely accidental.”

Jos Sances' Screenprint with watercolor "Judith Slaying Holofernes"
Jos Sances’ screenprint with watercolor, ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes.'” (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

Sances’ politics and those of Malaquias Montoya (his work Mein Trumpf is pictured above) are anything but subtle, but Newsfeed, a relief print by San Francisco Art Institute student Kate Laster, is a study in ambiguity.

“This is the preamble on my mind, a way of untangling emotional baggage,” Laster said of her work, which shows a woman desperately embracing a figure made out of newsprint. “I keep thinking about doublespeak. There are all of these lies from Trump, these horrible things he’s saying that are affecting every part of our lives.”

Kate Lasker standing in front of her relief print "Newsfeed" part of the show ‘Creation and Resistance
Kate Lasker standing in front of her relief print ‘Newsfeed,’ part of the show ‘Creation and Resistance.’ (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

Other prints in the show were inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and President Trump’s decision to authorize construction by the Army Corps of Engineers. “The Standing Rock Sioux are fighting a government that is still not respecting its treaties,” said Veronica Solis, who made the linocut Winter Count.

Veronica Solis' linocut "Winter Count" is part of the show 'Creation and Resistance'
Veronica Solis’ linocut ‘Winter Count,’ part of the show ‘Creation and Resistance.’ (Photo: Cy Musiker)

Solis, a Mexican immigrant, was deeply offended by Trump’s derogatory comments about people like her. “We have to remember,” she said, perhaps speaking for all the artists in the show, “that reality is not what he says it is. Immigrants are a big part of what makes this country so great. So we need to be loud. And these prints are our way to speak.”

Q.Logo.Break

The exhibit Creation and Resistance: Printmaking in Dark Times continues through Friday, April 7, when Acción Latina hosts a closing reception from 6-9pm featuring an artist panel including Chamuco Cortez, Kate Laster, Fernando Marti, Veronica Solis and David Avery.

Political Prints Pull No Punches at Juan R. Fuentes Gallery 21 March,2017Cy Musiker

Author

Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley's School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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