GuernicAmerica by Richard Ramos

Ogden  Arts  Festival

Local  Ogden  Artist   Richard  Ramos  painted  a  piece  in  the  stylings  of  Picasso  to  bring  attention  to  the Dakota  Access  Pipeline  protest.  One  of  the  highest  callings  for  an  artist  is  activism. Here  is  his  artist  statement: GuernicAmerica 96″  X  48″  Acrylic  on  Canvas  2016 The  following  is  an  explanation  about  why  I  chose  to  use  Picasso’s  Guernica  as  a  template  for  this new  painting. Guernica  is  a  mural  size  canvas  painting  created  by  Pablo  Picasso  in  1937  for  the  Spanish  Pavilion  of the  World’s  Fair  in  Paris.  In  short  it  depicts  the  bombing  of  a  Basque  town  in  Spain  called  Guernica  at the  time  Spain  is  being  ravaged  by  a  civil  war.

 The  Republican  state  is  being  overthrown  by  a  fascist regime  led  by  Generalissimo  Francisco  Franco.  His  Nationalist  party  promises  the  return  of  the country  to  “the  golden  days  of  Spain”,  based  on  law,  order,  and  traditional  Catholic  family  values. (  Sound  familiar?  Guernica  was  seen  as  a  strong  hold  of  the  Republican  resistance  and thus  it’s  value  as  a  target.  Hitler  who  had  lent  support  to  Franco’s  Nationalist  party  was  using  Spain’s civil  war  as  a  testing  ground  for  new  weapons  and  tactics.  The  bombing  carried  out  by  the  Nazis lasted  for  three  hours  resulting  in  1600  civilians  being  killed  or  wounded. This  painting  has  become  an  icon  for  the  atrocities  of  war.  It  is  one  of  the  most  famous  paintings  in the  world.  Even  people  who  don’t  know  Picasso  painted  it  know  the  painting.

Just  as  other  contemporary  artists  have  done,  I  have  used  the  template  of  Guernica  as  inspiration  for the  painting  you  see  here.  The  black  and  white  palette  with  the  distorted  and  fragmented  figures convey  a  sense  of  chaos,  destruction,  and  violence.  I  have  interpreted  the  original  Guernica  in  terms that  fit  a  portion  of  American  history  as  I  see  it.  Although  the  current  struggle  of  the  indigenous people  of  the  Standing  Rock  Sioux  Tribe  and  their  allies,  among  whom  I  count  myself,  is  a  starting point  for  this  piece,  I  am  also  citing  the  500  year  history  of  the  mistreatment  and  denigration  of indigenous  peoples  by  the  immigrants  who  invaded  this  land.  Again,  sound  familiar?

 Not  only  have they  disrespected  and  abused  people,  but  possibly  even  more  so  the  land  itself!  All  racial  issues aside,  this  assault  on  the  land,  the  water,  the  air,  and  the  people  for  temporary  monetary  gain  serving a  tiny  percentage  of  the  population  (the  elite)  spells  disaster  for  us  all! I  generally  agree  with  Picasso  that  the  symbolism  in  a  visual  work  of  art  need  not  be  explained because  no  matter  what,  the  viewer  will  bring  their  own  interpretations  with  them  or  form  them  upon viewing  the  piece.  Just  research  Picasso’s  Guernica  (or  just  about  any  painting)  and  you  will  see  that interpretations  can  vary  wildly.  In  fact,  look  at  any  political  situation  and  you  will  find  that  there  is  no clear  cut  interpretation  or  opinion  that  does  not  have  it’s  opposite.  If  nothing  else,  art  creates  a dialogue  and  that  is  why  it  is  so  important  to  us.  This  being  said,  I  would  like  to  point  out  that  there  is hope  imbedded  in  my  version.

Those  who  choose  to  ignore  the  interconnectedness  of  all  things  suffer  from  a  sickness  which poisons  everything  and  leaves  nothing  for  future  generations.  It  is  well  known  that  one  of  the  first European  conquerors  of  the  Americas,  Cortez,  told  Moctezuma  that  he  suffered  from  a  sickness  of the  heart  which  could  only  be  cured  by  gold.  What  was  the  great  bull  in  Picasso’s  painting,  which  may represent  power  and  brutality,  has  been  transformed  into  to  the  white  bison  which  I  choose  to represent  the  indigenous  keepers  of  a  wisdom  that  the  oppressors  choose  to  ignore.  It  represents  the Sacred.  The  bison’s  third  eye  represents  the  ability  to  see  the  spiritual  side  of  life  that  interconnects all  beings,  the  earth,  and  all  of  the  elements.  The  sickness  of  the  oppressors  causes  the  third  eye  to close  and  they  choose  not  to  listen  to  the  heart.  The  sick  ones  believe  in  technology,  power,  and monetary  wealth  over  all.  They  call  this  infrastructure  claiming  that  it  is  best  for  us  all  and  must  be implemented  at  any  cost.  They  refuse  to  see  the  infrastructure  that  is  already  in  place  throughout creation  which  creates  the  balance  that  nurtures  life.  The  oil,  water  and  other  elements  are  in  perfect harmony  without  our  intervention.  The  sick  ones  call  the  elements  “resources”  and  claim  all  rights  to exploit  them  not  only  here,  but  globally  to  build  their  infrastructure.  However,  they  intend  to  benefit the  few  at  the  expense  of  the  many.  We  know  this  by  their  actions  not  their  words.  What  the  sick  ones do  not  know  is  that  the  Earth,  the  Water,  and  the  Air  are  sacred  things  that  we  cannot  live  without  and they  are  destroying  these  sacred  things.  All  of  earth’s  creatures  including  the  sick  ones  are  made  of these  sacred  elements  and  therefore,  are  sacred  as  well.  We  all  know  this.  Even  if  you  don’t  believe there  is  a  spiritual  or  sacred  side  of  life,  at  this  late  date  how  can  you  deny  that  there  is  a  balance  that if  not  restored  by  us,  will  be  restored  at  our  peril?  

It  is  my  feeling  that  most  of  us,  upon  just  a  few minutes  of  quiet  reflection,  would  agree  that  there  is  something  sacred  in  the  earth  and  it’s  people.  If not,  you  need  to  visit  a  forest,  a  stream,  or  a  mountain  top  very  soon!  Those  who  protect  the  sacred protect  even  the  sick  ones  from  themselves.  In  the  end  we  will  win,  we  being  the  side  who  stands firmly  united  by  love,  not  greed.  This  is  what  bird  represents.  Call  it  a  dove  if  you  like.  Balance  will  be restored  even  if  human  extinction  is  required.  If  only  the  sick  ones  could  see  that  the  real  power comes  not  from  the  violence  against  the  earth,  against  the  people,  but  through  love. The  people  at  Standing  Rock  are  protecting  the  sacred!  Standing  Rock,  I  promise  you  no  matter  which side  steps  down  or  is  pummeled,  is  not  the  last  stand.  It  is  only  the  beginning  for  many  of  us  and  it  is just  one  more  battle  in  500  years  of  battle  for  the  protectors.  The  military  machine  would  have already  destroyed  the  protectors  if  any  real  violence  had  been  perpetrated  against  it.  It  seeks  that provocation  so  that  it  can  feel  justified  in  it’s  own  violence.  There  have  been  angry  words  and senseless  acts  in  this  struggle,  but  the  Fact  that  the  protectors  still  stand  shows  that  they  stand unarmed,  prayerful,  and  confident  in  the  ability  of  nonviolence  and  love.

If  you  took  the  time  to  read  this,  I  thank  you.  I  am  not  a  scholar  nor  do  I  claim  to  know  much  of anything,  but  this  comes  from  my  heart.  Peace  be  with  you  whatever  your  stance.  Please  reach  out and  help  our  relatives  if  you  can.  To  end  I  will  paraphrase  H.H.  The  Dalai  Lama,  It  is  good  to  pray,  but God  did  not  create  this  problem.  Humans  created  this  problem  and  it  is  up  to  us  to  solve  it. #Ogden  #DAPL #Activism  #ArtActivism  #OgdenCity


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