OC Artists Display Their Resistance

For every mouthpiece of tyranny this county has produced—Dana Rohrabacher, Barbara Coe, to name a couple—there are very real, constructive movements revolting against them, including UC Irvine's radicalized students; the woke Latinx/Xicano protesters fighting gentrification; and the poets, musicians, writers and activists who help to organize the annual OC Anarchist Bookfair, as well as the OC Zine Fest (holla!).

In this column—and elsewhere for the Weekly—I've had the pleasure of getting to know local artists reflecting the times through their work. In his OC Crime comic series, Felipe Flores, who operates Trabajo Press, illustrates recent displays of police brutality, abuse of power and violence: the 2011 murder of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, the 2015 pot-dispensary raid by Santa Ana police, and this year's KKK rally in Anaheim. In the same medium, P. Kristen Enos and Heidi Ho's upcoming Active Voice: The Comic Collection illuminates the writers' experiences of growing up gay and Asian in Orange County and Long Beach.

The list of OC-based political art runs long, from Jeff Gillette's Disneyfied slum paintings to Lizz Zuñiga's punk clothing line Audey Thunders, which challenges unethical corporate clothing-labor practices. Emigdio Vasquez's paintings championed the Mexican-American working class in an era when Latinos were considered second-class citizens. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art's recent “Chicano/Latino Artists for Social Justice” exhibition brought together more than 30 artists commenting on issues from immigration to gang injunctions to labor. Among them was Matthew Southgate's El Teatro Del Nuevo Mundo Absurdo (Theatre of the New Absurd World), which places Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump next to each other and labeled “benevolent” and “malevolent,” respectively.

Now, as Trump is about to rule the country for the next four years, we can expect artists to continue weaponizing their pencils and paintbrushes to criticize, challenge and refute the repressive tyrannies affecting us on local and national levels. Young artists, take note—and everyone else, #fucktrump.

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