Statement

Below is my show statement and show title for an exhibit that was taken down the day after it was hung. The venue was a craft coffee shop where I have previously shown work and where they are genuinely supportive of my work. They had second thoughts after the show was hung, explaining deep regret, but concern that my work might alienate some of their clientele.

“Mr. T”
On exhibit here are a collection of works on paper that take their starting point from one person, but more than representing an individual they explore a larger world of compartmentalized identities coughed up since Donald Trump has taken office, as supporters and detractors alike are swept along in his parade, scurrying to find footing. Gone are the formalities of diplomacy, leadership and decorum of years gone by and instead what has come forward is a feed back loop regurgitating the darkest of brash, wind driven madness that popular America has cultivated since its inception. From Twitter blue to Ajax white to Everlast red our identities, affiliations and alignments are caught up in a blur of interconnected alliances. As we attempt to untangle ourselves from the onslaught of storms, the suffocating mantle of stripes or the submerged life-blood within the earth’s strata, deeper issues of cooperation versus division and ultimately survival, loom in the background.
Kenny Cole November 2018
 
 

“Dig Deep”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
18” x 24”
This is one of four larger renderings of Trump as facing the four cardinal directions. The point of view is from behind looking past him to a distant strata/cut-away with oil rigs lined up on the horizon against a Twitter blue sky. Here Trump is encouraged by his spirit animal, the Twitter bird and a reassuring pat on the back from Santa. His focus is singular: oil. Meanwhile a very smart phone in the foreground records, or rather interprets the scene as a gathering of suits resting comfortably in bright red upholstered chairs...the rear guard maintaining the steady economy of depletion and destruction.
“Incoming”
2018
ink, gouache on paper
BUY
$650.00
12” x 16”
Representing Trump as a blue bird, but clearly not as "The Bluebird of Happiness" known throughout the ages from ancient myth and popular culture, references my caricature of him as master of the tweet. Happiness seems to have become a forgotten aspiration in these desperate clawing times of consumption and tribalism. Here he soars above the oil fields with his legions of blue feathered friends as a menacing challenge against change or progress.
“Her Tormentors”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
18” x 24”
The motif of a woman throwing a book originated from an illustration in an encyclopedia set that I use from time to time, that depicted a scene from the Salem Witch Trials, where a woman throws a book at her accusers. Books by themselves have been a favorite motif of mine for some time, so to take both evolved motifs into the context of this body of work adds a particular depth to this painting. My feminine figure sits with Trump in some sort of elevated balcony as if together at the opera. Below and in the distance is a ziggurat of suited men in a hall of officialdom. The headless woman is a bundle of musculature wrapped in a ribbon connected to the projectile more as an architectural feature than as a real being free to move and react. The exceedingly smart phone in the foreground captures the moment as an poorly framed Frankenstein-like selfie.
“Mod Squad (Jacked)”
2018
ink, gouache on paper
BUY
$650.00
16” x 12”
Most of the figures in my work are archetypes and here I have rendered three archetypes within or as, a singular archetype, that of the body builder. Though one might argue that Trump is not quite an archetype, I am striving to see him as such, so as to understand better the underlying forces that have put him in power. Here, despite his ripping physique, he appears to need help surmounting a rainbow-like strata/cut-away. Happy to oblige are an intensely buff Jesus and jacked thongstress, all three bonded as brothers in arms through their blonde coiffures. Behind them the tornadoes rage.
“Tornado Chasers”
2018
gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
18" x 24"
This is the "central facing" Trump of the four cardinal views grouping. It's not clear to me whether he is consuming or releasing the black Twitter birds, but either way nothing good will come of either act. We can see however that he has transmogrified into a bird likely as a result of his intense alignment with certain technologies. Fortunately for him his tailor has been able to adapt his wardrobe to accommodate his new appearance.
“Follow Me”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$650.00
16" x 12"
As technology advances it allegedly strives to meet human needs, so I have to assume that humans have the need to follow and the need to be followed by others. Before the advent of electronic media it was enough to have a patterned fabric waving on a stick in order to galvanize large regions of humans. The Trump transformation, that we are all experiencing at this time, has become the era of chaotic inter-connectivity. Somewhere loosely within our new national identity is the remnant of a color scheme and pattern that formerly helped us find our center as a group. The transformation that has descended upon us now has given technology the ability to create alternative realities and alignments to be selectively transmitted through an individual in a leadership position.
“Send in a Drone”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
18” x 24”
This is the "east facing" of four renderings of Trump as cardinal points. There are several things going on in this painting that are highly suggestive. When this show was taken down only one day after it was hung, this painting was sited to me by the Coffee Shop/venue owner as one of two works that bothered her the most. The Confederate flag being the primary problem in her mind. I'd like to think that this painting has more open ended possibilities than what might be perceived as straightforward Trump bashing. Besides Trump, four other "things" are rendered here, the flag, Santa Claus, drone striking and a car. For me this grouping is intuitive rather than calculated, but if I try I can make some tenuous alignments: Santa and the flag share red and white, the car and the flag suggest Smokey and the Bandit, the car and a drone strike suggest a military presence in the Middle East to control resources, Trump's Twitter blue Santa suit trimmed with white fur suggesting an ever so subtle but sinister cultural alignments...
“Victory”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$650.00
12” x 16”
Here an army has formed, but they have yet to coordinate their uniforms. This image is in the spirit of my "avant garde" series in which I create scenes of cultural characters as uniformed combatants.
“Why Was I Not Hidden?”
2018
Gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
18" x 24"
The west facing of Trump as four cardinal points.
“The Very First Lady”
2017
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
22" x 30"
This image is one of two that was expressed to me by the owner of the cafe where my work was removed, as the most disturbing and very influential in terms of validating their decision to take the show down. I found that interesting because I would assume, that yes when art is bad it is usually because it is too obvious, parochial or didactic and is intolerable and should be rejected. My work could be all of the above, hard for me to know, fine for others to say, but with this image I'm still not even sure what I was thinking as my process in creating it was pretty random and intuitive rather than calculated.
“Summit (A Very Special Bond)”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$250.00
5” x 7”
This work was created as a response to Trump’s summit with Kim Jong un. The fingers holding the smart phone mimic the stripes in the background flags and as with many of my smart phone collages, the screen shows a different image than what’s being recorded.
“The Punch That Shocked the World”
2018
gouache on paper
BUY
$250.00
5” x 7”
This work features Trump wearing a boxing glove punching Santa. The boxing motif is an idea that goes back about a decade in my work. I see that as symbolically representing struggle in general. Santa and Trump both fall in to a category in my work of middle aged white men that represent a cultural meme of sorts. They are also identified with a color or color scheme. Santa obviously with red and for my version of Trump he gets painted a Twitter blue. Santa already comes supplied with gloves. In the distance a Trumpian, Twitter Tornado wreaks it’s havoc...if you go back, again, about a decade with my work you’ll find lots of drawings that use alliteration as hand painted text!
“White Tornado”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$500.00
7” x 8 1/2”
Sometimes the magazine cut outs that I use dictate what the work will be about as was the case with the white swirl in an open jar of skin cream here. I also have a history of being attracted to advertising photography that employs sharp focused attention to drips, swirls and generally goopy stuff. Combine that with my artistic explorations of Trump’s hair and this work of art nearly made itself. Sometimes caricature develops its structure from elements that can be represented by tropes and for me, Trump is twitter, which can be a storm and/or a bird. And my favorite kind of storm has always been the tornado.
“Rhetoric”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$500.00
9" x 12"
This work employs multiple motifs that recur in my work; Santa, ice cream cone and flames with smoke. My Santas, for me, are just middle-aged men. Within the phenomenon that is the Trump experience, my Santas must make an appearance in order for us to be able to evaluate what kind of role middle-aged men have had in this current Trump event/era. Here Santa seems to be making an offering only to be tweeted/rebuked by the flames of Hell issuing from the big blue bird. Those that know my oeuvre well, will be reminded of my “Snowball’s Chance in Hell” series here suggesting a degree of futility underlining the tenuous relationship between the man and the man’s monster.
“Twitter Storm”
2018
gouache on paper
BUY
$500.00
9" x 12"
Birds recur as tropes in my work, the eagle, the penguin and now the Tweeter. Each one chosen for the depth of cultural symbolism engendered; the eagle endlessly popular as representative of a nation or corporation’s strength, the penguin with it’s tidy tuxedo as upper class wealth and now the blue Twitter bird, as a democratic flock endemic as the once abundant passenger pigeon. This painting suggests that somehow the MAGA trope’s feedback mechanism has backfired and patriotism has enlisted a flock of Hitchcockian tweetians to harass and confuse the blue suited king of tweets.
“Lost, Driven Off”
2018
collage, gouache on paper
BUY
$1750.00
18" x 24"
In the center of the tablet screen is an orange half, whose color has come to represent the fake tan of our current leader, Donald Trump. For me it is convenient as the color opposite blue on the color wheel, blue being my representation of Trump via his favorite social media tool, Twitter. In this painting, as with many of my collages, the images on the device's screen are not directly representative of what lies beyond. It is a landscape of symbols, with a billowing "V" formation from a distant volcano, suggesting that Mother Earth might be experiencing a severe case of indigestion and a determined "V" squadron of Twittering air supporters, buffeted by a verse from the bible, which speaks of the impermanence even, of those who might be in an exalted position.
"Tweenado”
2018
ink, gouache on paper
BUY
$650.00
9” x 12”
False verbiage, the bane of our current leader's struggle to be taken seriously is in fact his own weapon of choice and why he must feel most comfortable as a rally meister. Thus his leadership will be marked by his ability to stir, disrupt and activate his base through direct communication. A Tweenado has a path, involves lots of words and is pretty good at sucking the air out of a room!