Denver Gets a Creative Splatter

There’s been some chatter about the lack of protests at the Democratic Convention (though, as I write this Biden is going on and on about an "open convention"). While there may not be a tremendous number of people waving signs, there is a lot of street art in Denver right now focused on the DNC and Obama. A lot, but not all, of this art seems like an off shoot of the Manifest Hope show.

 

 

Yes, I know that I was going on and on about how over Obama art I was. But, that was almost 6 months ago. Now, maybe, I’m back to thinking this is a really good sign. Maybe. Part of my hesitation a few months ago stemmed from a fear that making a candidate too hip would distract us from the substance of the election. On some level, maybe that turned out being true– McCain certainly is trying to go with the flash v. substance line of attack.

Suddenly though, I’m beginning to feel like this is the most brilliant campaigning! It is almost ‘viral’ (whatever that means these days) and it does create the sense that this campaign is more open and accessible than previous campaigns. Street art often implies the "spontaneous eruption" of creative expression and when used for a political campaign it underscores the inspirational theme of Obama’s campaign.

Of course, I wonder how ‘spontaneous’ much of this art actually is. I don’t think that the Obama campaign put anybody up to it (i.e. vandalizing the streets of Denver). However, a number of the artists whose work has been photographed on the streets of Denver are also officially affiliated with the candidate in his "artists for Obama" section of the Obama "store" (Shepard Fairey’s work, in particular, seems to be showing up in both places).

Obama has become a pop culture icon, a presidential candidate, and a brand in the course of a year. I agree with Jed’s comment on my previous post, I still have reservations about the candidate-as-commodity, but it also seems to be working. If nothing else, this is change I can believe in. It is change I can see.

Ashley Bowen

Ashley Bowen is a former CCT Graduate Student.