On Saturday 6/3/2017 the American Museum of Tort law held an extraordinary event celebrating Art and Political Satire with distinguished guests Pulitzer Prize winning Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker and Hall of Fame New Yorker magazine artist Barry Blitt. The event was dubbed ““If It Doesn’t Please the Court: Two Ink-Stained Wretches on the Art of Political Satire”.
The day began at 11:00am with a workshop that exceeded expectations of museum staff who opened the workshop to include ten more seats than had been previously been set. Learning from the masters of political art, the aspiring cartoonists studied the techniques of the professionals in the field. With giant sheets of paper and markers, the artists illustrated their examples of shading, pen strokes, composition and more. The original art created that day was then donated by the artists to be sold for the benefit of the museum.
The event continued at 1:00pm in the United Methodist Church which is located adjacent to the museum. The artists were joined by Consumer advocate and founder of the museum Ralph Nader and Rick Newman, executive director of the museum. Newman introduced the speakers who each gave an enjoyable presentation to an appreciative audience. Through the use of a powerpoint style program, the artists used examples of their work to show how their imaginative ideas become reality on the page.
In the first presentation, Matt Wuerker stressed his intention is to illustrate an idea using the fewest amount of words possible while still conveying a message. The intention is that the concept of the cartoon can be understood through mostly visual cues. “They do studies on how they consume media,” says Wuerker. “It takes 3. 6 seconds (for a person) to look at a cartoon, read the caption and get the joke. Our attention spans are shrinking. The average American attention span used to be 12 seconds. It’s now down to 8 seconds. The really alarming study cites that a goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds.”
Barry Blitt’s work for the New Yorker magazine covers have received enormous notoriety and acclaim in the public eye especially his most recent work including the “golfing Trump on the White House” to the “Director Comey dragged off a flight by Attorney General Sessions”. Blitt shared his process from drawing basic concepts on sketch pads to selecting from them one or two cartoons to flesh out into a larger and more fully realized cartoon. The editor of the magazine will select the cartoon they wish to use and Blitt will create a finished completed work and send (via courier) to the magazine.
Ralph Nader is no stranger to political satire; he was on Saturday Night Live three times including one time as the host. Nader has often been the subject of caricature in editorial cartoons and he doesn’t mind that at all. One story he shared was how decades ago he visited the Soviet Union and slipped away from the official tour so he could visit locations on his own including the offices off Krokodil, which was the political satire magazine that lampooned the Soviet government. The editors failed to see him come in because they were engrossed in reading “contraband”…a Time Magazine. Satire is an essential tool for giving voice to those without power during times of authoritarian style rule and will continue to thrive for the foreseeable future in today’s political landscape.
After a question and answer session, the audience was invited back to the museum for a visit and for an autograph session with the artists. The artists shared personal moments with the guests who came to the table.
Nader shared that there will be more events at the Museum in the future and encouraged people who haven’t visited the museum to come and learn from this law museum.
For more information please check out https://www.tortmuseum.org/