“Outrage”: Art speaks out on behalf of the homeless

by John Zangas

A moving work of art will lead the way during a march for the homeless in Washington, DC on October 26. A banner painted by artist Ray Voide aims to raise awareness of the ongoing social problem of homelessness in the nation’s Capital. Voide, an activist with Occupy DC, has painted about twenty wide-format banners illustrating different protest actions over the last year.

This one, entitled “Outrage,” took over 20 hours to complete. He calls the 4′ x 15′ creation “my favorite and best yet.”

The composition layers scenes with messages depicting the plight of the homeless in the District. A destitute mother cradles her baby, while the wall above them reads, “Housing is a Human Right.” A tear streams down a young girl’s cheek as she gazes over a stark metropolis of corporate buildings, lobby firms, and condominiums. And a child stares bleakly at viewers, the inscription on her torso daring them to “feel.”

“The DC government cut $7 million from its homeless budget this year,” said Voide. “That’s just not acceptable.”

Last year the District cut its homeless shelter capacity by fifty percent, from 300 units to 150. The budget for services to help the poor and homeless was slashed in spite of a $140 million operating surplus for fiscal year 2012.
The banner will accompany hundreds of homeless and activist marchers from Franklin Park to Freedom Plaza.

Peace House puts on art show fundraiser

An art show benefit was held for Washington, DC’s Peace House on Saturday, May 12 at Larry’s Lounge on 18th St. NW.

Proceeds will go toward purchasing the Peace House, which is currently up for sale.

(Photo by coolrevolution.net)

Pervoe Maia: Soviet May Day

I couldn’t resist posting this typically over-the-top bit of Soviet propaganda–footage of the Pervomaysky parade from 1950. Thousands stroll through Red Square and enthusiastically wave to Stalin, Beria, Malenkov and Molotov. May Day was the biggest holiday of the year after the Day of the Great October Revolution. As my college roommate used to say, it’s a great day to wear the Red Scarf of Socialism.

The Soviet Communist Party idolized the worker according to Marxist-Leninist ideology–symbolized by the hammer and sickle–but as we know, it brutally crushed the individual under its boot. The stark difference between what the State said and what it did couldn’t have been more crazy-making.

In the modern capitalist West, we’ve lost respect for the worker and instead idolize the entrepreneur, the industrialist, the CEO, the hedge fund manager. At least the Soviets knew how to talk the talk–we’ve completely lost the vocabulary and therefore the concepts behind popular support of the labor movement.

Since I spent some student days in the Soviet Union and know at least a little of its evils first hand, I flinch when I see any hint of its distinctive imagery and style in modern May Day art:

In contrast, we see an artist who consciously copied a Soviet poster, yet successfully captured the modern May Day message:

Rats, existing without permission

Speaking of rats, they’re a major theme of street artist Banksy:

“If you feel dirty, insignificant or unloved, then rats are a good role model. They exist without permission, they have no respect for the hierarchy of society, and they have sex 50 times a day.”