El Peezo's newest public piece — his first in more than a year — depicts GOP front-runner Donald Trump as Jabba the Hutt, and makes an aside to the Trump family's ancestral name. Peezo, a wheatpaste artist and former New Times Big Brain finalist, hasn't produced any public work in more than a year and a half.
Sporting The Donald's signature hair and a massive gold chain proclaiming "Drumpf," the depiction seems to be a nod to the trending hashtag campaign #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain, created by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver in a plea to America to wipe the "magic" from its eyes and cut the larger-than-life personality down to size.
(The half-hour-long show has garnered more than 19 million views on YouTube, and red hats with the Drumpf slogan, in a design mimicking Trump's own infamous "Make America Great Again," have sold out a first run of 35,000 in a little over a week.)
“I doubt anyone had heard of ‘Drumpf’ prior to John Oliver doing that segment,” El Peezo writes in an e-mail to New Times. “I have a lot of respect for John and what he brings to the table. He does his homework, he makes the right kind of noise, and he says ‘fuck’ a lot on his show… I guess you could say that this piece is more or less a contribution to the ‘Drumpf’ character dialogue he started. The Donald is pop culture. He is a character, not a real person. I suppose that is the underlying theme behind this piece: People need to see him as a character, not a candidate for President.”
Peezo's "Donald Drumpf" piece went up on a wall just north of the intersection of Roosevelt and Seventh streets sometime late Thursday, March 10. It was posted on social media hours later. Until his posts on Friday, Peezo's Instagram account, which hosts images of his work in locations around Phoenix, had been inactive for a year and a half. With Drumpf, he's effectively resurfaced — and this time the message is political.
New Times nominated El Peezo for a Big Brain Award in Visual Art in 2014, a time when his work could be seen dotting buildings around downtown Phoenix and appearing on the public's Instagram pages. Though all of his pieces were visible, some, like his Jack Skellington interpretation at Phoenix Public Market and a scene from Where The Wild Things Are near Seventh and Pierce streets, were better known and frequently photographed. Others were a bit hidden, like a smaller-than-life Charlie Chaplin in the Crescent Ballroom parking lot or Alf and E.T. near an abandoned bank around First Avenue and Fillmore Street. A Jeeves-ian butler at Bentley Projects — posted the night before the New Times Big Brain event, "Artopia," and taken down the next day — was a nod to his nomination in lieu of his attendance, as he wishes to remain anonymous.
Two years later, the person behind El Peezo is still unknown and continues to let his art speak for him.
“I think by now you’ve probably figured out I don’t like this guy,” he writes in reference to Trump. “A lot of people don’t. He lies, he bullies, he throws tantrums, he just knows how to play to the angst most Americans have, and I think that is the reason he has garnered support.”
Peezo says he doesn’t plan on voting in either the primary or general elections (“If I’m free that day and I am by a voting booth I may pop in, but it’s not a priority for me. Hopefully I’m too busy to think about it,” he writes). Ultimately, he’s not worried about who the next president will be “because congress has shown a complete ineptitude to work with anyone in the executive branch of government.” Still, for voters on both sides of the aisle, this newest Peezo piece is likely to strike a chord.
Captioned "'Make America Great Again' BY not voting for @realdonaldtrump" with hashtags #WakeUpAmerica, #FuckingJoke, and, naturally, #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain, it's clear Peezo is taking Oliver's call to action seriously, publicly mocking a campaign that has thrived on mocking so many others. It may not be as catchy and controversial as artist Sarah Levy's portrait in menstrual blood, but it's the next in a series of protests against an increasingly divisive and violent campaign.
And the timing couldn't be better.
The #JabbaTheDrumpf art comes less than two weeks before the Arizona primaries. The Presidential Preference Election for the Republican, Democratic, and Green parties will be held on Tuesday, March 22.
According to a recently released poll by Michael Noble’s MBQF Consulting, conducted on March 8, Trump overshadows the other three GOP candidates with 37.3 percent. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is at 23.3 percent, followed by Ohio Governor John Kasich with 14.6 percent, and lastly Florida Senator Marco Rubio, at 11.6 percent.
Noble's poll surveyed both early voters and those who still intend to vote in the state's primary. Arizona is a winner-take-all state, which means all 58 delegates would go to Trump if he wins.
On Monday, March 14, The Republic reported that the Trump campaign has announced it will hold a rally in Phoenix at a yet-to-be-determined location on Saturday, March 19. The event comes just a week after a canceled planned appearance in Chicago due to violent outbursts between supporters and protestors — both of which will likely be in attendance at the Valley campaign stop.
Editor's note: This post has been updated with comment from El Peezo and new information.
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Janessa is a native Phoenician. She joined New Times as a contributor in 2013. You can connect with her on social media at @janessahilliard, and she promises you'll find no pictures of cats on her Instagram — but plenty of cocktails.