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Know Your Street Art 

Wednesday, May 4 2016

California's Democratic and Republican primaries are June 7, but in the aftermath of Trump's messy appearances throughout the state last week, voter allegiances are already visible across San Francisco. Outside of a portable toilet on a Haight-Ashbury sidewalk, someone has posted a Donald Trump sticker that reflects a widespread feeling here of the presidential candidate: He's worse than shit. In fact, Trump's life revolves around urine and feces, according to the sticker, which uses Trump's visage over his catchphrase, "Boom."

Someone — either the original sticker artist, or a passerby who recognized a golden opportunity — drew male genitalia on Trump's face. (If Trump knew of the sticker, he would likely go ballistic.) Its appearance coincides with a controversial nude painting of Trump with a small penis, Make America Great Again, by the Los Angeles artist Illma Gore, which U.S. art galleries refused to exhibit (although London's well-known Maddox Gallery displayed it last month to huge crowds). An anonymous litigant threatened Gore with a lawsuit, and others reportedly issued death threats against the artist. The controversy spiked the value of her anti-Trump piece, which Maddox Gallery said was worth $1 million.

In March, Trump's manhood became — much to the chagrin of political purists — a public topic while he debated Marco Rubio. On her website, Gore says her artwork critiques both Trump and society's fixation on people's physiques. "Simply put, you can be a massive prick, despite what is in your pants," says Gore, who writes that she created the work "to evoke a reaction from its audience, good or bad, about the significance we place on our physical selves. One should not feel emasculated by their penis size or vagina, as it does not define who you are. Your genitals do not define your gender,your power, or your status."

The Trump sticker at 635 Ashbury doesn't come with Gore's same qualifications. And its anonymous nature leaves it open to artistic interpretation. No crowds queue around the toilet to get a glimpse of the artwork, and its value may not exceed even $1. But it has this in common with Gore's Make America Great Again: It is a searing commentary about Trump and the times we live in. Almost 50 years ago, during the Summer of Love, this Ashbury address was known for the building that Janis Joplin lived in. The Grateful Dead lived a block away. Their art, earnest and raw, drew people together. The Trump sticker art does the opposite, cementing divisions that exist at the basest level.

About The Author

Jonathan Curiel


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