The Manifest Equality show kicks off this week in LA and will run from March 3rd through the 7th. I was invited to exhibit in the show after having exhibited in the Manifest Hope show during the Democratic National Convention. Manifest Equality’s focus is encouraging the equalization of civil rights for the gay community. It’s an issue I have strong feelings about. It’s my opinion, and you can call this liberal or whatever you like that under the constitution as citizens, so long as we are not breaking the law we should have equal rights to pursue happiness however we see fit. If there is any one group in this country, a supposed ‘free’ country who does not have those equal rights, then it is a threat to the rights of all the people and any other group could be singled out to have their rights revoked. This falls outside of the moral spectrum and lives in the realm of the private life. Sexuality and the expression of sexuality as well as the pursuit of relationships should be the right of every free person under a democratic state.
The original posters I created focused on a particular part of the male anatomy that I see as the central problem in the gay rights equation. The minute this bit of anatomy rears it’s head (yes, a pun is intended) is the minute everyone ruffles and loses their nerve. I am a married hetrosexual man who was raised in a very small town in Nebraska in a conservative household, but I have never understood this. I am not bothered by this part of the anatomy or what people choose to do with it. So I decided to put that right out front and make people have to face it head on (again, pun intended) and spend a moment thinking why it makes people so uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the posters (which I went to the trouble of having 100 screen printed and shipped to LA) were rejected on the grounds of being ‘too graphic’ and controversial for display.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed and lashed out by sending some angry emails Shepard Fairey and Ron English’s way. It was a snap judgement that I should have considered before jumping to and Fairey wasn’t very happy with my email. In retrospect, I know there is a time and place for everything. After speaking at length with the show organizer Yosi Sergant, I realized this just wasn’t the right place to be hanging a giant red, white and blue prick. Shepard Fairey remarked that I should ‘take it to the streets’ and maybe he is right. My point was that I felt some of the work should be provocative and angry in tone if this really is a ‘civil rights issue’. I think as a nation we have grown far too apathetic and just ‘accept’ a lot of the laws handed down to us by our government. Our government works for us. We do not work for them. If you want change in this country, you have to get out there knock on the Whitehouse door and say, ‘we the American public, want this to change now!’
So, I revised my work and created a new poster, which you can see at the top of this post that will now be exhibited at the show. It turned out alright, but I still think it lacks the teeth of the original posters which were really created to provoke the issue as a political one that begs a public outcry. I decided not to attend the show after losing out on my investment in printing the posters, but I do wish all the artists exhibiting the very best of luck, and I will be hoping the show is a huge success. It will be interesting to see the rest of the artists work from the show once images begin to hit the web. If you are in LA, the show opens Wednesday from 11am until 6pm at 1341 Vine Street. If you can be there, I wouldn’t miss this one. It should be a thought provoking event, and might I suggest standing outside and waiving one of my posters in the air?