Art for prez

Getting Bush-y with local artists

Johnson: I am a defense contractor.

Kratz: Well, I rest my case.

NT: Hey, you guys! We're here to talk about art.

Who arted? Local artists stump for prez.
Emily Piraino
Who arted? Local artists stump for prez.
McKenzie, Kratz and Johnson have designs on the Oval 
Office.
Emily Piraino
McKenzie, Kratz and Johnson have designs on the Oval Office.

McKenzie: Sorry. Yeah. So, I was messing around on the computer one night, and I designed this poster that I decided I was going to put out there. Because there's a lot of Bush posters and stickers out there, but unfortunately not a lot of Kerry stuff.

Kratz: True, true!

McKenzie: The real message is that you may not be for any particular candidate, but the poster is meant to represent how very many people out there are adamantly opposed to Bush. I really was surprised at how the posters took off.

NT: They've been bootlegged!

McKenzie: I know -- and that was the whole concept. The artwork went out over the Internet, and pretty soon people were making their own posters from my design. Which is great. I want people to copy it and distribute it everywhere.

NT: Your tag line is "I Lied." But which Bush lie are you referring to?

McKenzie: I made the poster right after the 9/11 Commission Report came out, which was proof that [the Bush administration] was caught red-handed in a lie.

NT: It's a great design, but I could just tear the "I Lied" part off the bottom, and it would be a nice photo of President Bush that I could use to promote his campaign.

McKenzie: Ironically, some people have done that. Which, again, is entirely another opinion and one that people are entitled to. I don't mind people turning my anti-Bush poster into a pro-Bush poster. I'm not out to start a militia, live in Minnesota, and buy a bunch of rifles.

NT: You don't appear to be. Emma, how'd you decide to set your song to the tune of "Hello, Dolly!"?

Kratz: I wish I could tell you. The ragtime theme reminded me of political elections in general -- the whole "Happy times are here again" thing. I guess that was part of it.

NT: Does Jerry Herman know you've done this to his song?

Kratz: I figure I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I guess Jerry won't be mad, because he's not losing any income -- it's a not-for-profit project, and I'm soliciting donations to the Kerry campaign. I'm the writer, the artist, the producer, and the distributor of this CD, and its proceeds are my personal donation to the Kerry campaign. I've gone online and I've e-mailed this song to as many places as I could think of, including CNN, MSNBC, local politicians, Michael Moore. I haven't gotten much coverage yet, but --

Johnson: Maybe you need a defense contractor to market it for you.

Kratz: Ha ha.

Johnson: I'm a capitalist, is that okay with you?

Kratz: I'd hire you to promote it as long as you understood that all the money was going to John Kerry.

Johnson: I don't care where the money goes, as long as I'm paid for my services.

Kratz: That's very nice. I want to get this CD out there, because I want President Bush to know he's going down.

NT: You could do a whole album. You could do "I'm Gonna Wash That Bush Right Outa My Hair." And "Don't Cry For Me, You Iraqis"!

Kratz: I could! And I would love to perform my song at Rock the Vote.

NT: I believe that's a punk concert. Are you joking?

Kratz: Well, I really do believe that, with art, humor is the best approach, especially in an election year. Everyone is so serious. My candidate, John Kerry, is the most deadpan guy I've ever seen. He could use a laugh.

NT: There's certainly a lot to be unhappy about lately.

Kratz: There are a lot of things that aren't funny, like the guys dying in Iraq. And the breach of security that [Bush] has created in our country isn't very funny.

McKenzie: Terrorism is up 35 percent from where it was in 2001.

NT: You guys are covered in statistics! But do you really believe that a poster, a CD, a book will go a long way toward changing people's minds about election issues?

McKenzie: It might stop them for a moment. They may not change straightaway, but the art may possibly spark an interest and they'll look further into the idea presented in the art. Americans by and large do not know how the political system works. They don't look into the links that politicians have to large corporations, and that's something that I find detestable -- that Americans aren't more politically active about the people they're electing to run their country.

Kratz: Scott's work and my work -- no offense to you, Phil -- is art, and art sometimes works by osmosis. You're not thinking about the song, but you hear "You're Going Down, Bushy" on the radio, and the message sinks in. You're driving down the street and you see a picture of Bush with the slogan "I Lied," and your brain registers it. Osmosis.

McKenzie: There are a lot of people out there who don't like Bush, and unfortunately, if you talk negatively about him, it's considered unpatriotic, and you're accused of not backing up our country's efforts to democratize its war-torn regions. So a lot of people don't say anything. And so posters and CDs are a way of people tipping their hats to someone else without saying something out loud.

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