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Artful Resistance

North Bay artists respond to the Trumpian menace



If there's one upside to Donald Trump, it's that he has spurred local artists to pick up their paintbrushes and pencils.

"I just thought, 'We need to respond to this,'" says artist Suzanne Edminster. "We need to respond to this as artists, because that is what there is for us to do. I really felt a calling."

Edminster is an abstract acrylic painter and monotype printmaker whose Saltworkstudio is located in Backstreet Gallery in the SOFA arts district of Santa Rosa. She says Trump's campaign of lies and capture of the White House has become a cultural climate change as deadly as rising sea levels.

Edminster and dozens of other artists in the North Bay rallied to produce new works of accessible, progressive and politically minded art. Edminster called upon more than 30 local artists to create new works on display at Backstreet Gallery's "The Art of Resistance," showing on Saturdays and by appointment through March 3.

"I thought we need some honest reactions," she says. When she put the call out for political art, she wasn't sure what would come in and she says the majority of pieces are not your typical political art.

"Artists are making beautiful and useful metaphors, not just reacting to negative public events."

That doesn't mean the works in the exhibit are all flower-power images of peace and love. Some take a dark look into the hearts of those who refuse to help refugees, though many of the pieces try to find the light in the moment of darkness.

Edminster's contribution to the show is Cash Cow, which tells the story of America's corporate takeover through arresting visuals. A map of America is overlaid with splatters of color, and a striking image of a cow being led by a chain around its neck to depict the ways that America is being milked for all she's worth.

MEAT OF THE MATTER Suzanne Edminster’s ‘Cash Cow’ takes on corporate greed in the Trump era.
  • MEAT OF THE MATTER Suzanne Edminster’s ‘Cash Cow’ takes on corporate greed in the Trump era.

Though Edminster and other artists involved in the show say emotions are raw and hope fleeting, "we're all going to keep on creating art, any way we can. I feel that art is a battery that recharges people to do whatever it is they're going to do," she says. "It's maybe an idealistic viewpoint, but, hey, we're artists."


"This S___ Is Broken" is painted in thick black letters above a row of cuckoo clocks in Kristen Throop's studio at Backstreet Gallery. Throop's work is also featured in "The Art of Resistance." Her latest works began as ruminations on time and over the past few months evolved to represent a very particular moment: now.

Throop works in series, taking a concept or idea that she says usually manifests in a dream or in her subconscious, and creates paintings and other works based on that idea over the course of a year or more. Her past series have included color-changing LED sculptures and ruminations on her own mortality.

Throop became fascinated with broken cuckoo clocks and made a connection between their classic aesthetic and fragile gears and mechanisms.

She began researching and sketching clocks and soon was buying old pieces off the internet with the intention of fixing them up. By the time the election came about last year, the broken timepieces took on a new dimension.

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