san francisco art magazine

Art of Democracy: War and Empire

Curated by Anne Trueblood Brodzky, DeWitt Cheng, and Art Hazelwood

Meridian Gallery
San Francisco, California

over 40 artists including:
Fernando Botero - Sandow Birk - Hung Liu - Enrique Chagoya
William T. Wiley - Bella Feldman - Pat Oliphant

September 4th - November 4th, 2008
Closing party: Election Night - Tuesday, November 4th, 7 pm

Reviewed by James L. Weaver, MFA
Gee Vaucher - Oh America

"Oh America", 2006, digital print
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

Fernando Botero - Abu Ghraib 72

"Abu Ghraib 72", 2005
Collection of American University Museum, Washington, DC

      History frequently (with increased frequency of late) proves to us that not one Guernica painting, nor a million Guernica-type paintings, will ever have the slightest impact on preventing or ending a war. Never has, never will. Realize too, that nothing short of a peaceful street demonstration or protest ever gets footage on the evening news. This might make you wonder why responsible curators spend so much time and energy organizing exhibitions such as the current one at Meridian Gallery. Certainly none of us need to see artist images of yet more proof of man's inhumanity toward man that the news media might have missed, even if those images might include a visual description of a word that has more recently crept into our vocabulary--like waterboarding. If we consider ourselves to be sane and caring people completely abhorrent to war, why are we attracted to shows like this? Is it possible that we look forward to seeing how far a particular artist, whose normal subject matter is miles removed from the horrors of war, will "testify" through his/her chosen medium? Yes, that's a part of it.

Fernando Marti - Poppies

Amapolas, 2006, etching

      "Art of Democracy: War And Empire" provides us with three complete galleries of diverse, inventive, and certainly thought-provoking works of art, each one executed as if the artist wanted to put a little more effort and intensity in the piece they were asked to exhibit. No, there is no "Best of Show" or "Most Humorous" or any sort of prize or award category. What this show offers all of us, is the opportunity to realize that we still live in a country where curators and artists can publicly display their gut-churning hatred for war and human suppression before us art followers and, at the same time, give a salute and lend sympathy for artists in other lands who may never get the opportunity to exercise this right. And this is exactly why each of us need to physically attend this exhibition, rather than download some images or read a few descriptions about the work from a catalog. If you recall the last scene in Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", I'm sure you'll agree that we must never allow our lives and our Bill of Rights to be taken from us. That's why this exhibition is being presented to us.

-- James L. Weaver, MFA

James L. Weaver is an artist and writer living in the Bay Area. Visit his web page at:

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