A Striking Dissent

Williamsburg gallery features art not likely to be on GOP visitor brochures

Roebling Hall’s “Bush League” is a political show featuring 16 artists who take big swipes at Pres. George W. Bush & company. The country is clearly polarized as rarely before, and New Yorkers have in large measure made their bet. This show is representative of much of the mood in this city.

The devastating effects of the neo-cons’ policies continue to ripple into all facets of American society including contemporary art and in this show the artists express their displeasure with and fears of the current administration. Publicity for this show says it brings together artists who take on the image and ideas put forward by Bush and his cadre –Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft and Condoleezza Rice—the Bush league, as it were.

Roebling Hall is pleased with the diversity that characterizes the materials presented. Painting, drawing, sculpture, video and sound pieces freely play with both the images and actions of Bush through mockery and parody, as well as through dark and serious interpretations of the last four years. Melanie Baker’s large, ominously dark charcoal drawings are presented to explore the loaded gestures and silent communications between Atty. Gen. Ashcroft and the president. Wayne Gonzales employs images from newspapers and other sources which are digitally manipulated and reworked by hand on fields of metallic grounds with bendy screens and powered graphite. The show’s organizers also point to Joan Linder’s work in exposing the president and crew in humorous drawings that literally catch the Bush League with their pants down.

Christopher Draeger uses the loaded images of the World Trade Center on puzzle pieces and Moises Saman shows a horrifying portrait of a bombing victim from American air raids on Baghdad. Ivan Navarros’ sculpture, “You Sit, You Die,” focuses on the death penalty and Michael St. John’s collaged painting is presented as a critique of the expansive influence of Bush’s control of the media and mainstream perceptions. Bjorn Melhus fashions a catchy pop song out of the overtly arrogant proclamations of Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

This show confronts many serious issues on the minds of New Yorkers this week. The artists and gallerists are giving expression to the feelings many of us share.

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