On the northwest corner of Houston Street and the Bowery in what is now Manhattan’s hipster central, you’ll find a wall that is the site for a rotating display of murals. Living in the area, I walk by at least once a week on the way to shop at the Whole Paycheck that sits kitty-corner to the wall. Sometimes they’re rather nice, most of the time, “meh.” But last April, someone named Ron English (link to his website) put one up that is so jaw-droppingly infantile that I actually laughed out loud, much to the consternation of the tourists and other assorted coconuts posing in front of it for selfies.
Called “All-American Temper Tot” and featuring a character known as Hulk Baby, the 67×28 foot mural is an American flag composed of, for lack of a better word, “cartoons” lampooning (what else) aspects of American culture, religion and the free market. It’s 1,876 sq. ft. of stale bromides, hokey caricatures and regurgitated agit-prop that represents no more than a narcissistic, self-centered toddler, perpetually in a tantrum as he flings his own poo at his parents.
Speaking of President Obama, English created this brilliant work just before the 2008 election:
I snapped a few detail shots:
And there you have it. A veritable Sistine Chapel of holy icons to Leftists. What galls me is that Mr. English is oh so brave in his skewering of Jesus. I didn’t notice any skewering of Islam, Mohammed or even such seemingly no-brainer targets as ISIS. Of course he’s not going to go after them. He either is justifiably terrified or, perhaps more than likely, thinks Islam really is the religion of peace and an historic victim of Judeo-Christian imperialism.
The other thing I noticed is that this guy is a shameless hack who ripped off the idea for this mural from something that I remember from my childhood – Wacky Packages.
Call me biased since these are a pleasant memory from my childhood, but these are funnier (actually, the others display no humor at all) and infinitely better executed. I really dig “Commie Cleanser”; we could use tons of it. And then there’s this side by side comparison:
As Paul Simon once said, “amateurs copy, professionals steal.” Okay, I’ll cut English some slack since he was trying to imitate the Hulk, but still. Circling back to the title of this post, I’d like to show Mr. English some examples of real artists speaking harsh truth to power, when it was life and death and when it really mattered against real evil.
Two from Harry Searle, a British POW who was working as a slave laborer for the Japanese when he secretly made these drawings of life and death as a prisoner:
And a couple from Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, who as a prisoner in Auschwitz made over 300 drawings at the risk of his own life: