ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL
The Jackson Junge Gallery presents ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL, its first group exhibition of the 2019 season. The exhibition features 23 works of art in various mediums by artists from all around the United States. The opening will be hosted on Friday, February 1, 2019, with an artist’s reception from 6:00 – 10:00 pm. Admission is FREE to the public.
It has been claimed that all politics are local. The Legislated and Executive branches of the United States government are currently at a standstill and numerous Americans are wondering what the future of our great country will be. Many of the current national issues are relevant to the citizens of Chicago, a city that is both known for its great leaders and “windy” politicians. In September of 2018, Rham Emanuel announced that he would not be running for re-election as Mayor, shocking the citizens of Chicago. A record-breaking number of 15 candidates currently have put their names on the ballot. The prospect of a new Mayor is always an exciting one. The upcoming change of leadership will address and stir the debate about what is best for our great city. This exhibition touches on subjects including the current outlook of the United States, unlawful incarceration, Black Lives Matter, gun control, police brutality, women’s rights, the environment, immigration, big business development, and LGBTQIA rights.
One of the 14 participating artists, Alfonse Pagano, has expressed his outrage and shock regarding the state of affairs in our country by creating his series, “Rush to Relics”. Pagano expresses that, “Relic is my interpretation of the recent violations of the Constitution and destruction of vitally important programs in the United States as it relates to and impacts the common citizen under the Trump administration. In my deconstruction and manipulation of the American flag, I intended to transform the flag into something physically and emotionally separate from its previous pristine, iconic state, distinct from its origin, as a way to express the current toxic political climate.” Pagano’s flags are first distressed, aged, and torn apart; then reconstructed in three-dimensional form. Pagano says, “These manipulations take the flag farther away from its crisp, clean, and pure state.” The American flag is a symbol that artists have drawn from for decades. In 1989 artist, Dread Scott displayed his piece, “What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?” at the Art Institute of Chicago. This piece was an opportunity for people to stand on the American flag while leaving their comments in a book. Like Dread Scott, Alfonse Pagano has taken our highest symbol and gives the viewer an opportunity to consider what it represents.
While the American flag holds a place of honorable representation of the United States, abandoned prison buildings symbolize the darker side of the country. After the closure of Joliet Correctional Center in 2002, the prison opened its doors to public tours. The disrepair depicted in Anne Evan’s photograph, “Cell Block,” references a decaying system that unjustly puts away falsely convicted individuals and nonviolent drug offenders. Evans states, “while photographing inside the shuttered Joliet Prison, I started thinking of all the people incarcerated falsely over the years. It seems every several months, I still read in the local news the stories of innocent citizens being released from prison after being falsely accused of crimes they did not commit.” It is the hope that the new Mayor of Chicago will work with the police to not incarcerate nonviolent drug offenders and will encourage these powers to instead focus on more important matters at hand.
Further touching on the topic of police power, Tiphanie Spencer’s painting, “Don’t Shoot” addresses the senseless shootings happening throughout our country, specifically white police officers shooting unarmed African Americans. Spencer elaborates on her piece, saying, “here the scene takes place in Chicago, with a police officer represented as a wild dog with gun in hand, while a deceased, dapper African American gentleman comes back from death pleading for this violence to stop and for people to listen to his story. His hands are up, referencing the protest chant ‘hands up, don't shoot.’ His eyes are ‘stop’ media buttons, and his mouth consist of a 'play' and 'pause' media buttons, symbolizing the need for people to pause and listen. Chicago, which is painted gold to represent the sanctuary city, shakes and is shaken by the dramatic events it continues to witness. The frame around the piece is an homage to Keith Haring, who dedicated his life to the ideals of equality and social justice.” The new mayor of Chicago will have the issue of police brutality to deal with immediately upon taking office. It is the hope of many Chicagoans that the new Mayor will face this challenge head on and end the injustice and corruption we have seen for years.
While hope for change is strong with Chicagoans, there is also a residual sense of skepticism from years of the same political cycle. Laura Lee Junge represents this mistrust of politicians who say what their constituents want to hear during elections then act upon their own agenda once elected in her painting, “Monkey Suite.” She expresses her hope that elected members act in good faith, but also depicts the temptation to take advantage of power and be swayed by less virtuous forces, calling it all a circus act. Keeping the voices of the people heard can be difficult when faced with this power, making protests a key part of Chicago’s fabric. People take the streets in Kaitlyn Hwang’s watercolor, “March for our Live Chicago Skyline,” and in Denise Poloyac’s series of protest photographs. These works of art show Chicago’s will for change; and, as a collection, ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL demonstrates the passion for a better future both in Chicago and in the United States of America.
ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL is a collection of 23 artworks featuring works from 14 different artists. All artworks reference the important issues that our upcoming mayor will soon face. Between the ousting of Ed Burke and alderman elections, Chicago really has a chance to choose how it proceeds into the future. Even on a national level all issues have a local consequence, but local politics are the first step in a path to national influence.
Alfonse Pagano, Anne Evans, Brian Morgan, Denise Poloyac, James Mesple, Kaitlyn Hwang, Kelly Mathews, Kelly Witte, Laura Lee Junge, Mark Nelson, Nancy Bechtol, Peter Broitman, Richard Laurent, Tiphanie Spencer
ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL runs February 1, 2019 – March 3, 2019 and is curated by Gallery Director Chris Jackson, Assistant Gallery Director Kaitlyn Miller and Gallery Assistant Jordan High.