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Another Voice: Political Illustration of the Late 20th Century—An Exhibit at MCAD

February 17, 2017

This post was originally published on February 3, 2017 during my site transition.

If you are interested in art or politics or both you need to go to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s new exhibit—Another Voice: Political Illustration of the Late 20th Century. It’s located in Gallery X, 2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis. It is viewable during the building’s open hours which are pretty expansive because students come and go, and the show is up until March 5, 2017.

You’ll want to look at MCAD’s website for upcoming discussions about the exhibit.

Work from artists like Marshall Arisman, Anne Bascove, David Johnson, Sue Coe, Joseph Ciardiello, Ralph Steadman, and Mark Ulriksen, to name just a few—fills the walls. Anita Kunz’s exquisite rendering of baby Jesus pondering war and peace will pull you away from much larger and more dramatic pieces—a quiet but achingly beautiful piece.

You’ll be welcomed by Brad Holland’s masterful portrait of Pinochet. It’s an idea edited to swift and sure impact.

That’s what political art needs to do.

That’s one of the many beautiful things about this exhibit—the clear and thoughtful intelligence that works through each step of the creation of each image. These visual works answer the question of how you convey complex ideas and emotions visually, to educate, to persuade, to reveal. Steve Brodner’s portrait of Reagan will sock you in the stomach, in the best possible way.

So if you want to see impactful art, created by artists at the top of their game (and some who were just starting out and now are keeping us all on our toes with their current work) you need to get to this show.

And if all you care about is the creation of an image, this exhibit is an education on the preparation of pieces for print—where perfection is not important, because the art isn’t the final “object.” There is something magical in seeing the white out and corrective lines, the pasted on page extensions, and the side doodles and notes to the editor, that some of the pieces contain. To me it’s a walk through print production history of the late 20th century as well.

These artists are illustrators whose work I have admired throughout my adult life. It’s a pleasure and privilege to see some of their pieces in person. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Yes there are moments of sadness when you see a thirty-year-old piece that addresses unpleasant conditions of social and political reality that are still with us. Seeing art which supports an issue you thought was settled, and now in current times is being unsettled yet again might make you frustrated. But don’t think of this as a show with a discouraging message.

This show is about the human spirit and how artists work to make that spirit and necessary redress manifest in a visual piece. The show is really about how creative spirit can’t be stopped.

There will always be a need for someone to pick up a pen and make marks on paper to remind us of our humanity. Go see work by brilliant masters of the form.

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