Originally published by Rochester City Newspaper and written by Rebecca Rafferty
UPDATE: The free art exhibit "Trumpmania" has been extended through Friday, April 29, at the Art Museum of Rochester. AMoR's hours are 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.
ROCHESTER, NY -- A traveling exhibit featuring artwork inspired by Donald Trump and his presidential campaign will be presented for one night only at the Art Museum of Rochester (610 Monroe Avenue). "TRUMPMANIA™" is curated by pop culture professor Anthony Rotolo of Syracuse, and will take place Monday, April 18, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The exhibit focuses on Trump and the "cultural tidal wave" that occurred when the billionaire businessman announced his run for the White House, Rotolo says. It includes an international, "all-partisan" group of more than 20 artists responding to Trump and his campaign, and mingled in is a collection of Trump's own products.
Featured artists include Sarah Levy of Portland, Oregon, with her infamous portrait of Trump painted in her own menstrual blood. This work, titled "Whatever," and the resulting hashtag #BloodyTrump, was inspired by Trump's remarks that Fox News host Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever."
Other featured works include New York City street artist Hanksy's iconic "Dump Trump" image; anonymous artist DonkeyHotey's photorealistic caricatures; Libertarian-leaning Montana-based political cartoonist Ben Garrison's illustration of Trump's rise; and Amsterdam artist Onno Lolkema's painting of Jeb Bush being breast-fed by Donald Trump -- a response to comedian Rob Delaney's joking tweet that he collects oil paintings of Donald Trump breastfeeding Jeb Bush.
Rotolo originally reached out to several artists whose Trump-based work had made a particular splash on social media. The most common response was enthusiastic -- many of these artists wanted to do something with their piece but had no idea what, Rotolo says. He's since accepted art from people who have reached out to him, and plans to create a call for submissions.
"'Trumpmania' is a snapshot of a unique moment in American political history," Rotolo says. "Donald Trump is a genuine cultural phenomenon; he has everyone talking. I wanted to find a new way to experience the conversation he's inspired, the good and the bad, and perhaps consider it all, and the election, in a different light."
While many of the pieces were created in reaction to the buffoonery spouted by The Donald, not everything portrays him in a negative light, and Rotolo says that the show has drawn Trump supporters and protesters alike.
You might wonder if he felt any trepidation about getting these two groups in one room, considering the clashes that happen, particularly at Trump rallies. "I absolutely did, and I do still," he says.
At one of the openings, Rotolo says, he turned to a friend and said, "You know, I'm not sure if there is anywhere else right now where there are people in the room who are super excited about Donald Trump and people who are super horrified by him, and are talking to each other and not fighting."
Watching the crowd has also challenged the generalizations of who Trump supporters are, he says. At the reception in Syracuse, Rotolo says he witnessed a Trump-supporting father and young son discussing each of the artworks and the issues surrounding them.
The show also features a range of Trump's own cultural contributions, from his book, "The Art of the Deal," to the Trump brand board game, Trump necktie, Trump water, and so on, meant to represent "how long he has been with us culturally," Rotolo says. "It's almost like a cultural petting zoo."
Rochester is the third stop for the exhibition, which has been shown in Syracuse and New York City in the past week, but Rotolo is busy lining up more locations outside of the state throughout the election year.
Rotolo produces "Popular Education" events at his studio, #RotoloClass Media, in Syracuse. These include his public courses on "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who," taken by thousands worldwide, and #ElectionClass, which was covered by NBC's TODAY show in 2012. Rotolo was formerly social media director at Syracuse University and director of a graduate program in communications at Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
Admission to the show is free. Some of the art is available for sale as prints, and the one-of-a-kind artworks are available via silent auction at Trumpmania2016.com.
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