The Art of Democracy Is a National Coalition of Art Exhibitions
on the Dire State of American Politics Scheduled for the Fall of 2008.

Tustin, California Exhibition
CONTACT: John Powers johnp216 at

Tustin Old Town Gallery
150 East Main Street
Tustin, California 92780
(714) 734-9088

Left, Right and Center
The Art of Democracy

October 8 - November 8, 2008
Reception: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 2-5 p.m.
Curator: Patrick Merrill

Click here for call to entry.

Limited to artists living in Southern California. Entry due date is August 15, 2008.

Left, Right and Center is a project of Patrick Merrill and the Tustin Old Town Gallery, Tustin, California working in collaboration with the national Art of Democracy exhibition coalition. Leading up to the November 2008 national elections many artists from around the country will be making and starting to exhibit work that responds to the radical shift in politics and government policy in America that have come about in recent ears. The Art of Democracy seeks to attract individuals and artist organizations from around the nation to help amplify their message of civil activism, reform, dissent and protest. They aspire to bring together artists’ energies on a national scale. This is not a single show but an affiliation of shows.

The coalition’s hope is to inspire others from around the country to share their resources and energies in an attempt to create a positive change in American politics and domestic policy through art exhibitions. The national effort will work to promote these shows through a unifying title, logo, website, public relations campaign and through the exchange of posters and prints promoting the exhibitions.

The combined efforts will amplify the message of all the art exhibitions and draw more local and national attention. There is no prescribed message for the artwork.

Left, Right and Center will be an exhibition of prints from the So Cal arts community. From our standpoint what constitutes a print is still (and hopefully always will be) open to interpretation. Prints may be traditional in execution and innovative in presentation; for the wall or the floor or ceiling; sculptural or as books.

We are looking for diverse voices not just the “left” speaking to the choir. Democracy is about dialogue. Even if the current scene seems to be one set of serial monologues haranguing the other, democracy is our goal. Let’s put the pundits and talking heads aside. Let us hear from our artists. This is not a competition in the standard sense, but a means to present a collective visual voice from the So Cal region. The intention is to curate an exhibition, not jury one.

As a curator I do have a particular philosophy. Anyone can say, “this is better,” but that pronouncement always says more about the speaker than the work—revealing bias, prejudice, or conditioning. I bring this understanding with me when I curate an exhibit. I can’t be truly objective. I believe objectivity in art is a myth. Art must speak to me. I look for the narrative. I look for intentionality, a philosophy. Process is akin to play for me and while it has its place I don’t see it as serious art. I place content before form. I ask that the formal structures support and inform the narrative especially when that narrative is the formal structures itself. I want to be caught up in a dialogue with the artist. I want to be intrigued. In the world of political art I have come to appreciate work that questions, suggests options, that speak with a subtly rather than those that spew “in your face” hysterics. On the other hand some of the most powerful graphic works are powerful because of an outrage of clarion purity.

As an additional incentive we can offer you the possibility of having your work accepted into the most important political graphics collection in the nation. Carol Wells, Director of the Center for Political Graphics here in Los Angeles has agreed to come to the exhibit and select work for permanent inclusion in the Center’s collection. There are two mandatory conditions: the work must be a multiple and it must be overtly political.

There is no entry fee for Left, Right and Center. We do not want frames. If a work is small to medium in scale we want you to sandwich the art between plex and foamcore/matboard—all three cut to the same size. This will help present uniformity to the installation, allow the inclusion of more work, as well as make it cheaper to ship. Large work can be hung with grommets, monofilaments, rods or pins—whatever will mount them to the wall.

You may enter your voice via JPGs (300 DPI, 2 MG. max) on CD or slides. Maximum of 5 works. Make sure all identifying information is included on either format. CDs should be formatted to be readable by both PC and Macs. On a separate hardcopy please include all your vital contact information, a list of artwork with title, medium, dimensions, price if for sale and a statement that speaks to your submitted work. Be advised that the exhibition will not be insured. While every care will be taken in the handling of all the art, Powers Gallery will not be responsible for damage or loss however caused. The artists will be responsible for the delivery and return of their art.

For those who wish to be considered by Carol Wells please say so and date and sign it.


  • Entry due date by August 15, 2008
  • Accepted work: Artists will be notified by August 30, 2008
  • Shipped work to arrive by September 26, 2008
  • Hand deliver: Friday, September 26 and Saturday 27, 2008 - 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Exhibition dates – October 8 through Nov 8, 2008
  • Reception: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 2-5 PM.
  • Pickup: November 15 - 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Patrick Merrill is an artist, a master printer and a curator. He has been exhibiting since 1971. That was the year he returned from Viet Nam awash in all the angst generated by war. His work is in the national museums of Chongqing, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria as well as collections throughout the United States. His early training included mentoring by Atelier 17 and Tamarind trained printers as well as a five-year immersion in all the commercial printing processes. In 1981 Merrill established Pat Merrill Fine Art Prints and by 1986 it was a fully equipped, printmaking facility specializing in etchings, woodcuts, collographs and monoprints. The beginning of his curatorial career was in 1993 when Merrill worked with Miriam Shapiro in curating a national exhibit entitled “Issues of Oppression”. In 1997 he became the Director and Curator of the 4500 sq. ft. Kellogg University Art Gallery at California State University, Pomona. Look for examples of his curatorial ideas at

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