Interview of “8:46 am in the morning” painting

Image

So where were you the day of 9/11 attacks?

I was driving to work and decided to see my wife, who worked at a local hotel in Berkeley.  Everyone was crowded around the TV, watching the towers burn. After 20 minutes, I drove on and heard the rest of the attacks unfold on the radio.  It was a challenge to drive, but all the drivers were muted zombies driving, no one drove aggressively as we grieved together.

Image

What is this painting title?

This is the time right when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York.  I had been painting an abstract painting and then this image started to form and I realized when I finished that it was the attack on WTC with the characteristic metal support beams on the building and explosion of the plane as it disintegrates on impact into the building.

What were the first days like afterward?

Image

One of the proudest moments was seeing that Art.com decided to print 100s of posters to create a massive flag on all the windows of their building. Imagine 70% of the face of this building was a massive US flag.  Immediately afterwards there was a shortage of US flags as everyone wanted to commemorate the civilian deaths around the US.

Image

How did artists respond to the tragedy?

Many people at first were drawn to the US flag and then people got enraged at the senseless attack on civilians not involved in US foreign policy.  People were really shocked that Osama bin Laden actually took responsibility.  People were upset at the Bush administration later for letting the family members related to Osama escape quickly out of the US.  Of course, they likely would have been lynched in the aftermath.  Above we see a massive mural by Shepherd Fairey and Saber on the 9/11 attacks.  I personally painted a type of flag painting as well, but never showed it as it was very vengeful type of work.

Image

“Would you like to play a game of thermonuclear war?”

What is the story in this painting?

Well, I had painted the US flag in off colors and green, which were the colors in the Saudi Arabia flag. As we know now, 11 of the bombers were Saudi in the group called “Al-queda”.  The branch in Saudi Arabia is trying to overthrow the monarchy supposedly and establish an even tighter religious ruling in Saudi Arabia.  The lettering of the Saudi flag is repeated in the painting.

Image

What does this lettering say?

“There is no God, but God and Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

Basically, the flag is stating that only Islam is the correct version of religion and we will enforce it by military means of the sword.  How many Saudi citizens think it is their duty to start a jihad just based on their flag design?  You have similar issues in Pakistan, where the capital is called “Islamabad”, basically the town of Islam.  How many Pakistanis think it is their duty to spread Islam as the only correct version of religion and piety?

Is there other lettering in your flag painting?

In the top left, where the 50 stars would go are the coordinates of the Mecca and Medina.  Medina is the capital of Saudi Arabia and Mecca is the holy capital of Islam, where muslims go each year in their holy journey required once in their lifetime.

Why didn’t you decide to show this work?

I was unhappy with the work and spattered it in paint and later had no idea how to finish it.  Seeing other works like from Saber, I came to realize we as artists were showing the blood shed of the event on the US flag.  The attacks were an abomination to what the US citizen believes as moral justice in the world ie. you don’t attack citizens in war, especially when you just start a war.  Below is a series of Saber’s flag works.

ImageImageImage

So what is the title of your work about?

Basically, the title is a reference to “War Games”, a classic movie of my childhood.  The main character is a computer high school student nerd, who hacks into school system to change his grades. He then fumbles upon a secret Department of Defense computer that he can play multiple games.  One of the games is “Thermonuclear War”.  He starts to play and the computer decides the game is real and begins planning a nuclear attack on the USSR.  The student mush convince the computer that the endgame is only destruction of the world with no true victory in any scenario.

ImageImage

In my painting, the coordinates of Mecca and Medina are a new updated version, where the US decides to nuke Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks, since so many of their citizens were behind the attacks.

Image

What do you think of the conspiracy theories that came out after the dust settled?

Well one theory was that the WTC 7 was not in the attack.  When I first heard this, I thought these guys are just not processing the attacks as possible and thought there must be some type of government conspiracy to attack Iraq and Afganistan.  But really, would the US government be able to pull off such a massive conspiracy theory?

Image

One of the newest wrinkles in this particular story has been uncovered by Edward Snowden.  He claimed that Saddam Hussein actually planned a simultaneous attack to blow up WTC7 on the same day as al-Queda attacked with 4 planes.  Who knows if this was possible, but based on some photos like the one above you definitely start to wonder.  The conspiracy here is the disbelief that the US would actually invade Iraq without reason seeing the US as impervious to invasion, so an actual attack would have been justified if Saddam had attacked.

The reality is that it is possible that the US government just decided to invade Iraq.  We did it in Vietnam and then passed the War Powers Act of 1973 to prevent US presidents from unilateraly declaring war without Congress permission after the disaster of limited engagement in Vietnam.

Image

Interview on “Toxic Cafe of Lac-Magentic” painting

Image

So why were you inspired to paint this theme?

I heard of the tragic accident at Lac-Magentic with the whole town basically obliterated and grew curious to how this explosion happened.  A train was parked by itself above the town, the conductor goes for a cup of coffee, the train runs away downhill and then blows up an entire town.

Image

Who do you think is to blame in this tragedy?

Well definitely the policy of allowing one conductor to a train with hazardous material looks very foolish.  I think the fact that this train carrying such type of explosive material should be under guard 24/7 to prevent such a catastrophe.

Isn’t guarding this oil 24/7 extreme?

Well, look at the situation this way, what if the explosion was intentional or had been intentional? The minimum thing MMA, a US based company, could do was at least guard the train.  Looking at the statistics of declining train derailments from 3000 in 1980 to 500 in 2010, the advent of a terrorist connection is unlikely.

ImageImage

Has there been a major train terrorist attack post 9/11?

Yes, in 2004, terrorists hit a major train depot in Madrid. They blew up the four trains three days before the election and thanks to the initial bungled investigation of the PP, the party was overthrown in the elections.

Image

Have you ever been close to a terrorist attack?

In fact, I landed a few hours after the terrorist bombing of the Madrid airport garage.  We were stuck in the plane for an hour at least before they secured the airport for people to evacuate the planes.  As we came out of the airport we saw 4-5 levels of the front of the garage blown up.

When I lived in Spain there were bombings by the local Basque terrorists called ETA.  In 1993, they blew up seven people in a van in the streets of Madrid. Additionally, they set a second bomb next to the US and French Embassies, but the second bomb cause was unsolved.  I lived about 6 km away at the time.

Image

Why is ETA striking terror in Spain?

Well, Spain suffered a dictatorship after the Civil War in the 1930s.  Franco used very repressive ways to eliminate other language groups and political competitors: anarchists, communists, socialists and regionalists throughout Spain with the exception of his native Galician.  People were forced to learn only Castillian (what we know as Spanish that conquered the Americas).  During the dictatorship of 42 years, the only political action was to use terror.  In this case ETA formed to overthrow the dictatorship and establish themselves as a free country.  After democracy the group continued in their terror campaign despite having achieved language protection, preservation and respect within Spain’s new democracy.

Image

ETA mural in the Basque Country

Image

March against ETA, 2010

Why do you think ETA continues?

In many ways it represents the poor transition to democracy in the 1930s and the continuation of the original Civil War of 1936-39.  Hopefully one day the terror will end.

 

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShawNshawNart

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview on “May the Odds be Ever in your Favor” painting

IMG_1772

So why did you choose the Hunger Games as a theme?

Well, I saw the movie and loved it.  It has such a beautiful brutality of reality and surreal future imbedded together.  The symbology in the film is extremely well done.  You have outstanding costumes showing immense gaudy wealth contrasted by poverty.

bakereffie

Why did you choose this scene in the film?

Up to this point as a viewer to the movie, you think this movie is only about the dreary poverty of the future.  Once Effie enters the stage, you are literally shell-shocked by the utter extravagance of the Capital vs. the Districts.  At this moment, you see how cruel the Capital is.  Additionally, the microphone from the thirties and the construct of society is similar to a real autocracy. hungergames

death of rue

How important is the 3-finger salute to the film?

Well, the whole true reality is spoken by a simple gesture that the Capital cannot hide or manipulate.  This simple hand gesture becomes the symbol of the growing rebellion in the Districts as people realize they can be more than slaves.  They can choose to rebel despite over-whelming odds.  In the future as the symbology of the film wears out, there is a possibility this will be falsely mentioned as Nazi salute, but it is what it is.

Is this why you choose the title “May the Odds be Ever in your Favor”?

Yes, the title was hard to pick.  I thought of picking “give me liberty or give me death”, but I thought that was a bit obvious.  I like the idea of the mix of fiction and today’s symbols.

fiskerrr logo6

So what are the symbols in the background?

I have many of the slogans of the Obama administration as the film came out during that time and there was a lot of thick campaigning bordering on propaganda.  I have MLK included as there were many references as well as logos of crushed railroads and failed green energy companies that Obama favored in his rule, Fiskar for example.  I also had symbols of global corporate rule such as Coca-cola, which is also a reference back to another painting of mine. Coke. It’s the Real Thing.

COCA-COLAking poster

The theme and labelling of Obama as a socialist and big government plays right into the same theme of the Hunger Games in that an obnoxious all-knowing government assumes it knows best how to allocate resources, save companies, how its citizens spend money, increasing taxes and regulate guns.  Other plays on the propaganda are from Shephard Fairey and derivatives of the message of Hope. ObeyGiant

obama hopefoodhope2

Why have an Osama bin Laden poster in the background?

Well, OBL was killed on Obama’s watch, so I have to credit that as well play on the meaning of that kill in the “War on Terror”.  I think that now that the foreign enemy has been beat abroad there is a danger of moving that war to US itself.  You see the beefing up of local police that now they have full machine guns to patrol its citizenry as just seen at Boston.  Other symbols include references to the Black Panthers, who were hunted down by the US government in the 1960s as a terrorist group as well. Of course, there is the Bill Ayers connection to Obama in his political youth as well. Ayers was part of another terrorist group the Weather Underground.

blk panther posteroccupy2

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at www.shawnshawn.co

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact