Artist: CV and Press
Artist Books & Portfolios | Prints | Political Posters | Painting | Exhibitions
Art Hazelwood: Artist, Impresario, Instigator
CV linked here as a pdf file.
Review of American Artists Against War 1935-2010, David McCarthy, University of California Press, which apparently Hazelwood is mentioned in. At least that’s the indication from this book review by Paul Von Blum
An Interview with Art Hazelwood
Pressing the issue: Art Hazelwood’s imagery and action on the homeless front
by Emily Green | 2 Dec 2014, Street Roots News, Portland, OR
Mutiny Radio hosted an exhibition of San Francisco Eviction Times and interviewed Patrick Piazza about evictions, while Art Hazelwood, Mobile Arts Platform and Jos Sances printed posters on the street.
From exhibition text for “Rebound: A Survey of Contemporary California Book Art”, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, curated by Simon Blattner
The amount of art that Arthur Hazelwood has produced in the last ten years is simply astonishing. Not only has it been voluminous in quantity but also the quality and variety of his art has to be seen to be imagined. While he is primarily known as an artist with a strong lefty political bent his work covers the map in its grasp of history, depth of information and formidable energy. In the work presented here Hazelwood has taken the book arts to new places, in this case the stage and opera that he calls “Tora Bora”. This piece is ever more interesting since the demise of the main character, Osama Bin Laden. In earlier works the artist has taken not only the US government to task but with work fringing on character assassination others whose positions and politics don’t fit his matrix. His work is in many private collections throughout the United States and Europe and he counts Stanford University, St. Mary’s College, the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library among those institutions and individuals who have collected his work. There are some who even say liking his work is “an acquired art. You may or may not like the art he makes but we can all agree that he has a passion for what he is doing and the way he is doing it. -Simon Blattner, 2011
Hobos to Street People, by Art Hazelwood, The Arts Politics, pdf (250 kb)
“Opinionated Art”: A Window into the Fine Art Print Collections at the Library of Congress, Martha H. Kennedy, Curator of Popular & Applied Graphic Art, 2010, based on a presentation and discussion by Katherine L. Blood, Curator of Fine Prints.http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/opinart.html
Art Hazelwood at the INFERNO Gallery reviewed on 10/14/09 by DeWitt Cheng in the East Bay Express
Several Reviews of Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Responses to Homelessness From the New Deal to the Present . Curated by Art Hazelwood
Art is Moving Blog video interview with Art Hazelwood at the Art of Democracy show at the Meridian Gallery
Article by Mark Vallen about the exhibition Art of Democracy War & Empire, in Foreign Policy in Focus
About the “I” Word. Political Artwork blog spot has an essay about my impeachment poster, on Wednesday,May 23, 2007.
Political Art Timely and Timeless, speech by Art Hazelwood at a panel discussion at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston.
Five Reviews of Hubris Corpulentus in Rhode Island
Art Hazelwood: A Graphic Witness of America by David Berona at the online journal Image and Narrative
Abstract (E): This essay examines the power of the contemporary print in the work of the San Francisco printmaker, Art Hazelwood. Narrative features are identified in Hazelwood’s early series of woodcuts that display distinctive scenes of contemporary life, block books that merge image and text in an imaginative display, stylized book illustrations, accordion style artists books, and his satirical commentary on American imperialism in Iraq called Hubris Corpulentus.
ALL ACCESS MUNCIE — Art Hazelwood is a long way from home. The San Francisco artist was mingling with art lovers recently during the opening of his exhibit “Hubris Corpulentus” at down-town’s Mitchell Place Gallery.
The question was bound to come up. “Why are you in Muncie?” It seems Ball State University arts prof Scott Anderson called on his friend to be a visiting guest artist for his class. So, Hazelwood packed up his art and will be in town for two weeks to discuss his technique with students. And he thought since he was going to be in town, ^perhaps a local gallery would be interested in exhibiting his prints. “Of course we wanted his work!” Pamela de Marris of Mitchell Place exclaimed during the reception on Oct. 7. “Just look at it!”
It is very detailed large and small-scale pieces with a satirical edge. He takes jabs at high school shootings, urban professionals, addiction and, most notably, politics.
” Right before the election, it’s good to offer something slightly political,” the tall, soft-spoken artist said with a grin. He said the exhibit shows our country’s “overweening pride.” He pointed to an engraving that carries the title of the exhibit, Hubris Corpulentus. The piece shows hefty soldiers and bloated artillery. One soldier holds a chicken wing on one hand an a gun in the other.
“It really represents the hubris of the country,” Hazelwood said. More than 30 of this artist’s prints, some as large as 15 feet long, are on display at the gallery. His print techniques include woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, engravings, lithographs and book projects. War is one of the bigger themes.
“I did not attempt to portray the photographic reality, nor the horrors of war,” he said. “My experience is limited in this regard to news consumption. I focused instead on the metaphorical and satirical nature of the enterprise. Liberty Brought to Baghdad portrays a bound and blindfolded lady liberty, roughly treated by troops dragging her off to her newly intended. The Four Horsemen portray the classic four figures of death, war, pestilence and famine striding above the globe while below ineffective peace protesters march in ant-like swarms.”
The series Requiem For Dionysos is a large, colorful linocut print. Hazelwood said it was inspired by Euripides’ play the Bacchae. The monumental print book Gargantua in the Vineyards, based on Francois Rabelais, also uses literary themes as its inspiration. The book unfolds to display a narrative measuring 25 feet in length. The satirical writings of Rabelais are put to use in this print which mocks the wide gamut of authority figures.
” His pieces are so detailed,” said Scott Mason, who stopped by the reception to check out Hazelwood’s work. “And the social commentary is right on. “
Review by Cheryl Halde
February 19 – April 3, 2004
Santa Rosa Junior College Art Gallery
1501 Mendocino Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-4395
An exhibition of prints, which deal with the political and social issues of our time.
Curated by Suzanne LackeIn this day of de rigueur jingoism, “Eye Object” is an interested survey in what has been considered political art in the last decade or more. The body politic contingent is represented beside brightly colored propagandist posters, next to elegant old school etchings mocking the powers that be. Religion, war, racism, gender identity, unconscionable capitalism, imperialism, crimes against homosexuals, homelessness, classism, consumerism, the Patriot Act, the environment are all considered by the curator, Suzanne Lacke’s wide lens.
Linda Lee Boyd’s large scale expertly carved woodblocks are an homage to the working class, Jos Sance’s colorful posters are biting and engaging, M. Louise Stanley tackles homelessness and misguided vanity in Fashion Victim, Pele de Lappe’s beautiful Street Scene with silky lithographic blacks, shows a woman cloaked in material security stepping disdainfully over the street’s émigrés.
Enrique Chagoya’s etchings, Loyalty, Flight, and People in Bags, elegant lines and formal blacks are aesthetically arresting as well as satirically biting. They are classically political prints: dramatic, sophisticated, and intelligent enough to be reminiscent of Goya. While enjoying the pleasure of seeing an idea well executed, I find I have to step over a young man sitting cross-legged on the floor, head in hands in front of Chagoya’s The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals.
This color lithograph/woodcut is a strange amalgamation of imagery, fair Jesus in a dress asking where his husband is among them, made me want to giggle. It engendered a fleeting sensation that I was a five year old Mexican child in my abuela’s living room trying to decipher my indoctrination in to a world of Catholic piety and telenovellas, lacking the maturity to discern and compartmentalize.
Backing up again, not to be discouraged from viewing the print by the distressed young man on the floor, who does not find The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals humorous, but instead a painful assault on his faith. I am surprised and touched by his reaction. There is something satisfying about witnessing outrage at an artist’s work versus the “yes I agree, only more so!” responses that one usually meets with, at political art openings.
Political art requires an active audience to be valuable. As in the age-old question, “if a tree falls in the woods, with no one around to hear, does it make a sound?” No. The sound is created in the ear that hears. Likewise political art depends on an artist willing to risk offending, and a viewer willing to be engaged. The power of the image, unlike a narrative, has the ability to make a sudden emotional and lasting impression. Nowhere is political art more at home than in the print, with its history of illuminating world affairs to the people who live with the decision maker’s dictates.
The broadness of the show begs the question, What exactly is political art now? In the era of the patriot act, where environmentalists are placed on the no-fly list and after supplying us with years of sleaze and satire Howard Stern is ostensibly being pulled off the air for bad taste directly after he began his piquant litanies on Bush. The body politic that we embraced in the 1990’s does not hold the vibrancy that it once did. Being referred to as a ‘Chick’ based on my vagina ownership pales in comparison with the assault on the Bill of Rights and corrupt invasion of another country. Art Hazelwood faces these issues head on with his Liberty Brought to Baghdad.
Hazelwood’s political commentary sings in the form of the print. The viciousness of the line, the moodiness of the blacks, the iconographic subject matter are enough to make one pause and think, ‘Thank God someone is doing this – and doing this well,”
Panel Discussion: Functions and Uses of Political Art Now
On February 14th, San Francisco’s Meridian Gallery held a panel discussion entitled “Functions and Uses of Political Art Now” in conjunction with its exhibit, Hubris Corpulentus: Prints by Art Hazelwood (January 15 – February 28, 2004). Anne Trueblood Brodsky, director of the Meridian Gallery, introduced the panel to the audience, crowded into one of the gallery’s three exhibition rooms.
The panel moderator was Peter Selz, Art History Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley; former curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum; and a distinguished and prolific art writer (Art Nouveau. Art and Design at the Turn of the Century, Alberto Giacometti, Emil Nolde, Ferdinand Hodler, Mark Rothko, Max Beckmann, Nathan Oliveira, Impressionism & European Modernism: The Sirak Collection, Art in Our Times: A Pictorial History, 1890-1980, and Sam Francis, etc). He is currently working on a book covering postwar political art in California. The panel comprised three Bay Area artists. Art Hazelwood, a San Francisco artist, has exhibited in Japan, Europe and the US. Among his numerous art activities, he has produced satirical images for Street Sheet, San Francisco’s newspaper on homelessness, for ten years, and has served as board member and newsletter editor for local arts organizations including the California Society of Printmakers. Jos Sances, founder and art director of Berkeley’s Alliance Graphics, a union screen print and design shop specializing in work for progressive causes, maintains a steady output of art on personal and political issues. Jos co-founded Mission Grafica at the Mission Cultural Center as well, and serves as an Art Commissioner for the City of Berkeley and chairman of the Public Art Program. DeWitt Cheng, a painter exhibiting primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, has written on art and culture for The California Printmaker, Artweek, Art Papers, and several art websites.
The panel addressed five questions prepared in advance by Art Hazelwood on the nature and relevance of political art today.1. Art should not be about anything specific. It should especially not reflect current events. Specificity is opposed to the immortality of art.
2. Art should not be negative. It should be uplifting. Art should be about beauty, should take us away from our worries.
3. Art should not be about ideas. If I want ideas I?ll read a book. Why should I turn to artists for ideas or to be informed?
4. Political art needs a base of viewers and a platform; otherwise it is pointless. What would Daumier be without the newspapers that published him? Political art in the gallery or museum is just preaching to the converted anyway.
5. Political art for me is propaganda for you. Propaganda cannot be art.
The panel adopted these questions as a basic framework, and the discussion was lively and informative even when disagreements arose. The following summary is based on a transcript made from notes and an erratic audiotape. Statements are paraphrased for the sake of brevity. Apologies for any unintended inaccuracies in this reconstruction due to faulty memory or Memorex.Art and Politics
PS: Is all art political? How does one even define “political art?”
AH: Even the Impressionists, considered apolitical nowadays, could be seen as political, since they and their work depicted and supported the bourgeoisie of 19th century France, against the ruling classes.
JS: Art is both political, reflecting the issues of economics and class; and nonpolitical, based as it is on the accidents of the artist?s life: “one can almost always trace a direct relationship to a private factor or cause behind creation.” Political art espouses very specific political causes. Propaganda is a narrow category of political art, if it can be considered political art at all..
AH: Visual art could be construed as a continuum with political art at one end, fading into propaganda art, which in turn grades into abstract art and “wallpaper” at the other end of the spectrum.
Art and History
DC: I agree with Jos on the socioeconomic basis of art: artists serve the power structures of their times. However, this doesn’t mean that art of the past can?t be alive and relevant to modern eyes. For example, Renaissance religious triptychs are still interesting to us “even though we don?t believe that the donors are going to be in heaven with the saints.” We all go to museums. The fact that we are questioning political art today is interesting in itself. It is only in the past fifty years that visual esthetics have gone abstract, formalist and anti-political. According to Bram Dijkstra?s book, “American Expressionism,” the socially conscious artists of the Works Progress Administration in the Thirties were demeaned after the war by abstractionists on the esthetic left as retrograde illustrators, and by conservatives and corporations on the cultural right as bums, mongrels, perverts and communists.
PS: I heard Dijkstra speak recently in Berkeley and had some disagreements with his thesis, but the McCarthy period was so “dire and horrific that it would have taken a person?s full time computation or energy to be engaged in the struggle to document it; and that is why the arts, which do not have that energy, turned inward for expression.” Abstract art was exhibited in US embassies around the world by the State Department for ideological purposes during the Cold War, demonstrating the freedom of expression enjoyed in America.
AH: “An artist has to be engaged with life or you end up living in an ivory tower.” I make political art as well as nonpolitical art, so it?s complicated. Times and viewpoints change, too: Reginald Marsh, who, attacked at the time for insufficient political relevance, wearily asked if he should paint people with gas masks; now he looks pretty socially engaged.
DC: In the Fifties, after a generation of turmoil and crisis, depression and war, everybody (including many of the social realists) was ready to change gears and enjoy the postwar prosperity. Abstraction was thus an understandable emotional as well as esthetically logical development; it was the Zeitgeist, spirit of the age. Gorky expressed this need to move on with his famous putdown of Thirties social realism, “poor art for poor people.”Art as Information or Symbol
PS: One common objection to political art: art should not be about ideas; people don’t look to paintings to become informed.
AH: I’ve often heard people say that to learn about the political situation, you read Paul Krugman in The New York Times.
JS: And very few people actually read political critique. They pick up political ideas from a number of sources in many media, as I do, from Fox News to alternative radio, only one of which is art.
AH: Well, of course an image is not as informative as an article, but it has an emotional impact, which is more important in some ways. We can actually carry those ideas with us.Efficacy in the Real World
PS: Another familiar argument: political art speaks only to the converted, to those already receptive to its conclusions (which is not necessarily bad). Artists, historically, have advocated ideas not yet accepted by mainstream society, and art is a safe place to air possibly dangerous ideas about political change.
AH: Here’s an example of art-driven social change. The interest of many artists in racial and sexual identity in the Nineties brought the concerns of previously unseen, unconsidered minorities to a wider public and broadened their appeal among mainstream Americans, changing the political climate.
PS: Yes, that’s true. But the media climate has changed. Years ago, art statements potentially had enormous power. Today an image has to make a pretty strong statement to create an impact.
JS: I read Mad Magazine as a kid. To this day, I’m still influenced by its subversive humor and critical outlook. We should continue to look at politics critically and with humor. Contemporary artists are unaware of the power of their images: for example, when a simple street poster gets into a newspaper, “an image of humble origins can be seen by a million people and can have an effect.”
AH: Homemade art displayed at recent antiwar demonstrations in San Francisco reached large audiences through the eye of the media.
DC: To play devil’s advocate for a moment, Robert Hughes said that a painting never saved anyone’s life. He may be right, although I prefer to agree with Art that strong imagery can change the political climate. Remember the Vietnam photo of the little girl running away from a napalm attack naked and screaming; and the photo of a Viet Cong prisoner about to be executed. Those are strong photographs.
AH: Those photos might have saved lives by altering the way Americans felt about the war.
DC: I think so, although I doubt that politicians pay much attention to imagery per se.
PS: Perhaps they should. William Carlos Williams said in one of his poems that thousands of people die every day for lack of poetry.
JS: And I don’t think any painting ever killed anyone.Purism and Pragmatism
DC: What do you think about making political art vs. becoming a full-time activist? Leon Golub was active in opposing the Vietnam war and knew many people willing to go to jail for their beliefs. He, however, believed there was a greater need for him make art than to go to jail. Bearing witness and making work that expresses one’s feelings, to me, is a valid way of serving.
AH: There’s a dearth of political art in journalism today. So why make political art if no magazines will print it?
PS: The Romare Bearden exhibit is now up at SFMOMA. When I saw the exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, there were three times as many viewers at the Bearden exhibit as at the adjacent Picasso exhibit.
JS: Yes, but African-American artists always complain that SFMOMA shows work by artists of color only in February for Black History Month; besides, Bearden was given much less space than Diane Arbus had just been given.
PS: I saw the Bearden show as well in Washington; it was given a better installation there, with more space. Bearden was an extraordinary man, having grown up in the Harlem Renaissance, and a marvelous artist who pushed the technique of collage farther than anybody else to reach a fantastic synthesis of art and politics.
DC: Considering the adoption of modernist styles (cubism, expressionism, surrealism) by political artists, as detailed in the Dijkstra book, I wonder if anyone can think of serious political artists continuing to work in traditional Renaissance-based realism.
PS: No one comes to mind immediately, but there are probably people who may not have emerged yet.Questions
Audience Member: Recently at the UN a tapestry copy of Picasso’s Guernica was veiled during the deliberations on the Iraq war. Any comments?
PS: This proves that some in power are aware of the power of imagery, not unlike the commissars of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia who prohibited so-called Degenerate Art.
JS: “When a society allows political art to be made without censorship, it?s a sign of real strength.” Only insecure societies and those in jeopardy feel the need to crack down on expression. “All censorship is completely un-American.” Furthermore, if artists today don?t take advantage of the freedom of speech we have, it will be taken away. “These freedoms exist because we use them.”AM: Many post-thaw Soviet dissident artists are in the curious position of having won the political battle while losing their reason for protest and thus the basis of their art.
JS: When I visited a number of studios in St. Petersburg during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many artists told me that, ironically, socialist realism was now popular in the West as kitsch, notably statues of Stalin. So the dissident artists have lost out twice.
DC: Those statues were probably by Lev Tarbel, a prominent and prolific Russian political sculptor, who made (I think) the Saddam Hussein statue recently pulled down in Baghdad. Political art is complicated! I?d like to read a statement made in 1951 by Ben Shahn which describes the current political moment as well. “If either art or society is to survive in the coming half-century, it will be necessary for us to reassess our values. The time is past due for us to decide whether we are a moral people or merely a comfortable people, whether to place our own convenience above the life-struggles of backward nations, whether we place the sanctity of enterprise above the debasement of our public. If it falls to the lot of artists and poets to ask these questions, then the more honorable their role. It is not the survival of art that is at issue, but the survival of the free individual and a civilized society.”AM: In 2001, convinced that the US was going to war with Iraq, horrified about what it had done to Afghanistan, and apprehensive about the Patriot Act, I created a poster and sent copies to friends, who posted them around the country. I was very heartened by the general level of protest activity, and I encourage others in the audience to continue. It was only when dissenting East Germans realized that the secret police could not possibly keep track of large numbers of people that the regime fell.
AH: During the Clinton years there were also political issues at stake. Although it is heartening that there is much more interest now in making political work, I hope it will continue after Bush is gone as well.
JS: Interest in political art has waxed and waned over the last thirty years: “It?s kind of the fashion part of capitalist art.”AM: Isn?t it ironic that Paul Robeson, a very political artist, who was considered so dangerous at one time that he lost his US passport and emigrated to the Soviet Union, has been commemorated on a US postage stamp?AM: Art today in galleries and museums has been co-opted by corporate tastes. The most ostensibly daring trend in the art world in the last ten years has been sensationalistic art like Damien Hirst’s sectioned carcasses. Such works merely masquerade as transgressive or revolutionary art. The art business today is insidious and political, bereft of humanistic values.AM: Is there a difference between political art and art in general? How is political art expressed in the US and in other countries? Are there any new unique trends in political art expression in the US and other countries?
AH: There is a sort of universality or uniformity to art today, for better or worse. “An MFA show in Bangkok is very similar to an MFA show in San Francisco.” Aside from the question of style, there is political work being done out of inner necessity all over the world, but it is not often exhibited, so “one might have to dig deep” to find adversarial art, as opposed to art based on opportunity, i.e,. more accessible work. Maybe that?s the contradiction in the Zeitgeist between that which goes along with what is opportunistic as opposed to that which is being done underneath, out of necessity.
PS: The humanist quality of work by Bill Viola can be considered deeply political.
AM: If you pay attention to what is going on in the political realm and the Bush administration, it appears there is no basis in reality for the Patriot Act and many other new measures. Artists always try to do something new and creative, but what the average viewer needs, and what is needed to compete with the Bush Administration, is a reminder of what is normal.
AH: Art is the basis of culture. There is a struggle to preserve it in the face of the destruction that is all around us in every society.
JS: Politics does not motivate me, but a utopian vision of the world does. Life could be made better very easily without changing a whole lot of things. I work in a union print shop that I founded, where there is no boss, and which works on the collective principle; I make my living in this way. In terms of cutting-edge artwork, I see groups of young people who make artwork for the environment and against the war, and a lot of people who get involved continue to make art, and that is very rewarding and cutting-edge. Going to galleries year after year, all that ever happens is that styles change. Those are places where people are selling artwork to those with lots of money and turning artists into home decorators for the rich. That corrupts art. The gallery system will never really be cutting-edge because all one wants is to decorate a wall. Most artists understand that dynamic and do not put a lot of stock in it. Thirty years ago I started making screen prints because it was inexpensive and accessible art; I could make multiples and disseminate them all over. It was a great way to get lots of art to lots of people. Cutting-edge could be defined by returning to what was described a century ago as being “bohemian”.
AM: I?d like to recommend an exhibit at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Mark Lombardi: Global Networks is a series of diagrams illustrating the connections between, for example, Oliver North and the Bush Dynasty, among others. Political art should be in the world in a way that is much more assertive. Work in galleries should also be proactive. Work that is reactive is more problematic because is will always be one step behind. What would have happened if Picasso had created Guernica before the Spanish Civil War began? It might have suggested an alternative and been proactive.
AH: Five directions in political art might be described:
moralistic (war is evil);
journalistic (war is evil and brings out evil in men);
parallelistic/postmodernist (war is as evil now, just as it was in the time of Nebuchadnezzar);
satirical (if war is evil, what is war against evil?).
PS: How do we reach a wider public?
AM: In ?89, there was an open invitation to the creative community of poets, painters and playwrights to become experts in depicting imagination. Artists needed to be in a place where their work would be more integrated. The reason why Mark Lombardi?s work is so effective is that contains both social and cultural components, along with being stunning artworks.
DC: Does the beauty of the diagrams detract in any way from the political message?
AM: The beauty acts as a window for the work. The artworks were made, amazingly, with only a number 2 pencil.
AH: Can beauty can be used as a tool in political art?
JS: Artists use all kinds of tools, including beauty, which is of course relative and subjective.
PS: Richard Misrach has made very paradoxically beautiful photos of atomic bomb test sites in the Nevada desert. The beauty draws you in.
JS: There is a point to making things discordant, though. If you take a corpse and make it into a beautiful dead body, does that serve the corpse? If you look at the woman holding the baby in Guernica it is not pretty, but that?s what makes the piece effective.
PS: Otto Dix’s paintings of the World War I battlefield are very difficult and horrible to view, but extremely well done; he is now considered a major artist. For some artists, in order to produce politically passionate art, engagement in the struggle is necessary.
AM: What about popular art? Political cartoons are the only form of political art that most people ever see.
AM: Yes, what about the late cartoon-based paintings of Phillip Guston?
PS: Guston was a realist painter in the Thirties and Forties who moved to abstraction in the Fifties. In the late Sixties he changed again; and with his controversial Ku Klux Klan paintings he became a great and influential painter.
AH: I’d like to end the discussion by reading from a poem by Bertolt Brecht.
What times are these
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When a conversation about trees is almost a crime
because it implies a silence about injustice.
And he who walks calmly across the streets,
is no longer in reach of his friends who are in need