I am amazed. Politics has been subject matter for street art for as long as they have both been around, I am sure. But in my experience, the political message of this kind of work is almost always critical of the dominant political party, and when it comes to elected officials, nearly always scathing in its portrayals and parodies. I’ve seen plenty of this for all the presidents I have lived through going back to Nixon. Admittedly most of the criticism has been directed at Republicans. No one, however, was sneaking around putting up triumphal representations of Slick Willy or Jimmy, as far as I remember.
I just don’t remember street artists ever busting out to celebrate the election of an American president like I’m seeing happen for Obama. It is almost disorienting to see newstands and telephone poles plastered with stylized images of Barack bearing slogans of support. I think it is another indication of what an enormous cultural and political earthquake this election has turned out to be.
It’s almost as if one needs to be continually reminded of this fact because it is so hard to really grasp. And the artists are doing it. They are reminding me to be amazed.