My American Dream: Heroes and Villain
CNN vs. Trump (Jim Acosta at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, May 29, 2018, from a photo by Drew Angerer), 2019 Oil on linen 36 × 55 inches
CNN vs. Trump (Jim Acosta at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, May 29, 2018, from a photo by Drew Angerer), 2019
Oil on linen 36 × 55 inches

Jim Acosta is currently the chief Whitehouse correspondent for CNN, which I watch and listen to, along with MSNBC, CNN, along with reading the New York Times and other sources of Real News. At this Trump rally, our president was ginning up his base by calling out the “fake news” media, egging them on to further demonize the individuals in their “press cages”, while ironically proceeding to descminate his own, very real, fake news. Acosta, especially after this rally, mentioned in interviews that while the base was invigorated in their heckling (FAKE NEWS! CNN SUCKS! SCUMBAGS! etc.) by Trump (who forges their response by energizing their anger at the media), that after, when they calm down, are also realizing that some of this is about the act of the moment, and actually want to take selfies with him, discuss what is happening in the news, and so on. Acosta, whose father is Cuban, grew up in a working class environment—his father worked as a clerk and cashier at Safeway stores and his mother as a bartender and waitress in the Washington area. But he has been made into a villain by Trump and his administration—more recently, he was called out by Trump at a White House press conference, after asking a pertinent question as a “rude, terrible person” and that he “shouldn’t be working for CNN”. They had an intern attempt to grab Acosta’s mike away, and banned him from the White House. CNN sued, and his press credentials were restored. Obviously one of the first paths to fascism is to control the press, one of the reasons it is part of our First Amendment. Although the play-acting part of the rallies is theater, the dark reality of how the Trumpian propaganda has attempted to wipe away notions of what is true and what is not is an Orwellian strategy to manipulate and brainwash the masses—and for a third of the nation, who doesn’t change the channel from Fox, Breitbart, and the rest, it’s working. I love the Bruegels, Bosch, Hogarth, and others who create these group scenes of their world’s groundlings of humanity, and recently again was enamored with Bruegel the Elders’ famous Netherlandish Proverbs painting in Berlin, which outlines in performative acts fables of the lows of the human comedy that still instructively resonate today, in addition to the great Goya bullfighting paintings and more, and was very much thinking of these when painting this. I also love the fighting scene paintings of Bellows, and the synesthetic abstraction of his figures. Some of these I left in a rawer cartoon form that brings about their sensation of anger, and feel that the gentleman in Acosta is a direct binary to this circus. Also the format of the painting is like a flag, with Acosta in the blue quadrant where the stars would be, the blissed out nature of the chiaroscuro in the arena hopefully ascending to other worlds, transcending in a way that Acosta must when he holds his breath, speaking truth to power, his actions achieving the higher purpose of really telling the truth to make the world of America a better place, along with his amazing colleagues in our cherished news media, who have been the check and balance that has gotten us through these last years in the hope to save democracy.