Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guerrilla Girls Benefit! This Saturday! Art=Power!

As you may have noticed from our Facebook feed, there is an off-the-charts awesome event happening this Saturday in Minneapolis. Cult Status Gallery will be hosting the "Guerrilla Girls Benefit," to raise money for a Guerrilla Girls Billboard Campaign against the marriage and voter ID amendments, which is quite literally, the coolest thing we have ever heard of.

In addition to a silent auction featuring local art (including a four-pack of C.L.A.P.s and a future subscription to our zine!), the event will include jams, eats and guerrilla masks. In other words, it is going to be amazing. 

 Keep reading to find out how event creators Joan Vorderbruggen, Freelance Storefront Designer and Arts Coordinator for Artists in Storefronts, and Erin Sayer, Owner/Operator of Cult Status Gallery hatched the plan to make this event happen, what is in store for the event and why YOU should vote "no" on the marriage and voter id amendments this coming November.

Tell us about yourselves and how you got involved with the Guerrilla Girls Benefit:
JV: I wrote the Guerrilla Girls a letter via their website describing the hateful amendments on our ballot this November, Marriage and Voter ID. I asked if they would consider participating in the MN electoral process in any way they wished to help us defeat them. Honestly, I didn't think they'd respond, I sent the email out like a little wish in a bottle tossed in the ocean. I nearly fell off my chair when one week later I listened to a voice mail from "Frida Kahlo of the Guerrilla Girls" stating that they were intrigued by my letter and to call her back. Several phone calls later we had coordinated a billboard campaign and are now hosting a benefit!

ES:I have been following Joan's meteoric success with the AIS program, and when she said she wanted to work with the GGs, I thought CSG would be the perfect venue for the event. I contacted her, and the rest is history.

How have the Guerrilla Girls influenced you? 

JV:They demonstrated the power of public art in protest of something you need to speak out against. Not only that it can be done but that it can affect change.

ES:The GGs have been tantamount to my development as a woman in art. I went to an all women's college, and of course studied the GGs in art history. Their message (about under-representation of women and minority artists) really spoke to me, and I have been very aware of the role of women in art, and the changes to our society and the perception of women artists, and how that has changed since the GGs came onto the scene in the 80s.

Why is what you are aiming to do with this campaign important? 
JV:These amendments aim to create hateful and discriminatory changes in our states constitution that will eliminate the possibility for same sex marriage in the State of MN as well as exclude members of our community from the voting process.

ES:This is so important on so many levels. a) If the marriage amendment is defeated, Minnesota will be the first state to do so in the country. I believe marriage equality is a human right, a civil right, and I have dozens of close friends who will be directly affected by it. Our society is so close to being ready to accept the natural progression of gay coupledom, gay parenting, and gay rights, it is hanging in limbo; and we have an opportunity to say to the nation that Minnesota has a very forward thinking, compassionate, and intellectual voter base. 

b) The Voter ID amendment is poll taxing in sheep's clothing. How would the government finance state issued IDs to hundreds of thousands of people? Obtaining an ID is a hardship for many people who have a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to vote. And everyone tends to forget, the US denounced the USSR in the 60s and 70s for making their citizens have a government issued ID. They considered it a harbinger of 'totalitarian communism.' And now, they want to do it to our citizens, not 30 years later. A voter ID would contain information that our current regular driver's licenses are missing, e.g. whether you are a felon or not. Also, having to prove where you live? How many people have the wrong address on their IDs right now (hundreds of thousands)? How much does it cost to change ($40), and how much of a pain is it to get done (a total pain)? Essentially, thousands upon thousands of people will be asked to shill for their own government tracking device. How long will it be before they start implanting babies with computer chips? Also...I can't believe the GOP is on to this, considering the vast government intervention and funding needed to get this program going. And, as far as voter fraud goes, it's hard enough to get people out to vote ONCE. Who will be riding around to different polling stations to vote multiple times?? OMG I could go on an on about this....  

If you needed to convince someone to vote no on these amendments, what would you say? 

JV:This is a defining moment in our states history, the next chapter of civil rights in America. This isn't conservatives versus liberals. It's discrimination versus human rights. It's as simple as that.

ES: See above!

How did you get involved in political activism as an artist? 

JV:This is my first foray, however I am a public artist in very many respects with both my storefront designs and my large scale public art project in Whittier. I am also a professional nurse so marrying my concerns for the community and human rights with a public art campaign is a natural evolution of much of what I do.

ES:I haven't been involved in activism myself, but it is an area I think I could explore in the future. It would be a natural direction for me to take my work. For many years I subscribed to the 'art for art's sake' school of thought, but now I know how powerful art can be, and adding depth of meaning to my work is something I would like to explore further.

What do you have planned for the event? 

JV:We will have an incredible silent auction with over 30 pieces donated by various local artists! DJ Ladyheat and Venus DeMars will spin, we will have live mural painting as well as a food truck, body painting, and gorilla masks!!!!

ES:We have a ton of local artists putting their talent where their heart is! We will have a silent art auction, awesome music, a food truck, and a photographer so you can get your picture taken either in a gorilla mask, or with one of us wearing a gorilla mask, and a lot of great company all organizing and coming together in support of our friends, loved ones, and our immigrant neighbors.

If people want to attend, or get involved, what should they do?
JV:Come out to the benefit Saturday August 7th at the Cult Status Gallery from 7-1am 2913 Harriet Avenue. If you simply want to make a tax deductable donation you can send an inquiry to info@artistsinstorefronts.com and I can tell you how to do that! :)

ES:To get involved creatively, all art will be accepted from 7-9 tonight and Wednesday night. Otherwise, show up in support!

What are you most excited about in terms of the event, and if you achieve your goals, the campaign? 

JV:You know I realize that this campaign would be more effective if it were addressed in a rural area versus the city, that whole preaching to the choir notion. Still I feel that bringing the local arts community together to have a voice regarding these issues in this way that is so energizing and exciting with legendary artists like the Guerrilla Girls as our collaborators, that if we can see what we created together to stand up and speak out, my hope is that will inspire people to continue to create and affect change through public art. And I want to make a stamp where I live that screams, hey we refuse to stand for these hateful agendas, and we want the community to see that! I mean, we are artists after all, with much power in our talents.

ES: First, I am excited to work with and get to know Joan, I love her enthusiasm and unending well of energy. Secondly, it has always been a dream of mine to work with or to be involved with the GGs in some way. I also can not wait to see what they come up with for us!

Is Saturday night a one-time shot? Or is there a way for people to contribute if they aren't able to make it to the event? 

JV: The benefit is a one night shot but we are contemplating doing an indie go go campaign to fund as many billboards as possible for the month of October. You can also send a check to the Whittier Alliance with a note that it is to fund this project, or Artists in Storefronts.

For more information on the Guerrilla Girls Benefit, or to RSVP, check out the event invite here!

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