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                                                                              Oklahoma

I am self-taught and because of Francisco Goya I became very interested in political imagery, very early in life.  The black and white political drawings were done in pen and ink, or pencil, and they range in size from 36" round,
down to 3" x 5".

The act of breathing is political. That said - my first venture into politics began in Oklahoma in the mid 1960’s, with the creation of a book of 66 illustrations (unpublished), called “The State of the Nation 1966.”

This was still three years before it was considered ethical to challenge policies of the US government, and the price for speaking out was high. I did this because the Oklahoma I grew up in was a third generation welfare state. Oklahoma was a place where welfare programs were tested, and the results contradicted the promises, outlined by LBJ in the “Great Society” and “The War on Poverty.” The ‘book' consisted of three parts and spoke directly to those two programs and concluded with “The Age of Contradictions.”  

The work brought controversy even before it was completed. And upon its only public showing for an audience of about 5,000 the project attracted some negative governmental attention.

The project also attracted local attention. The Governor of Oklahoma, Dewey Bartlett commissioned me to do six images to help persuade the Oklahoma legislature to improve the lot of Oklahoma’s public education. That effort was successful.

                                                                              California

In 1968, in southern California I free-lanced during Watergate, mostly against the Nixon administration and against the 25th Amendment in particular.

In the late 1970’s the California Chamber of Commerce and the California District Attorney’s Association commissioned me to create images for “The Forgotten Victims of Violent Crime”. The topics were provided  – the interpretative art is mine. The work was effectively used to help elect then State Senator George Deukmejian to the office of State Attorney General. It was also used to elect the same man to the office of Governor. The effort brought media attention to the topic which led to the creation of California’s Crime-Victim Legislation, which in turn became California’s Victim’s Bill of Rights. One unintended consequence of this effort was a societal anomaly that we now call “victim-hood.”

                                                                       San Francisco

Finally in San Francisco in the late 1990’s to the present, I became entangled in the quagmire over the city’s new $200 million Public Library.  My work was used to call attention to some of the more interesting aspects of this continuing dilemma.

I obviously do a lot of other work, besides pure politics. But I’m still a political independent, and the fire that began with Goya still burns.

Kirwan, San Francisco, March 2001
  

 

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revised April 2001