Last year, Joel Anderson was inspired to create a poster series by a ubiquitous annoyance: the cicada invasion that permeated Nashville with its sci-fi whine and creepy insectoid omnipresence. This year, he was inspired by another menace with a drone he couldn't drown out — the 2012 presidential election.
"It's like the cicada attack last year — you just can't get away from it," Anderson says wryly. "There's a lot of correlation with the buzz and the invasion of your space." With no pesticide strong enough to dispel the swarms of pundits, apparatchiks and spinmeisters, Anderson and his Anderson Design Group sought a kinder, gentler sort of flyswatter.
Thus comes Anderson's "Political Pimp" poster series, whose evocation of iconic Americana will be instantly familiar to the many who've purchased ADG's award-winning "Spirit of Nashville" posters. Intended as a throwback to the good-natured partisan rivalry of a bygone era, it reflects the artist's longing for less rancor and more respect in the political process.
"There was a day when it was all about the substance of the person and what they stood for," says Anderson, a Denver native who's called Nashville home since 1986. His own beliefs tilt toward "independent," he says — "There's so much baggage that comes with both parties" — while the ADG offices are "a little full of everything" across the political spectrum.
Hence the scrupulous bipartisan balance of Anderson's poster selection: red for "Nobama" alongside blue for "Mitt Happens," muscular elephants opposite can-do donkeys, poster-board shrines to Reagan and to Kennedy emblazoned with quotations. "They're both serious approaches, and both worth listening to," Anderson says.
Others have taken serious inspiration from the silly season. Former podcasters Nathan Moore and Bill Seaver have launched Epic Frequency, an enterprise that converts the waveforms of classic speeches — "I have a dream," "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" — into visual art printed on 48-by-18-inch horizontal canvases. Odd as it might be to have FDR's "fear itself" quote as bedroom décor, the works are intriguing and a little unsettling, as the revered texts are rendered wholly abstract, their meaning neatly excised.
That in itself mimics the way the soundbites and echo chambers of election year turn into white noise. With his own pieces, Anderson wants to restore friendly competition to the process — an acknowledgement that you and those across the aisle can disagree, yet still shake hands and part with mutual regard.
Wait, though — in our red-as-raw-steak state, are those Obama posters sitting around gathering dust mites? The results are closer than you'd think, Anderson says: stronger sales for Democratic gear online at andersondesigngroupstore.com, stronger sales for Republican gear in the ADG storefront at 116 29th Ave. N. Outselling all others are JFK and The Great Communicator — a lesson to both sides, perhaps, about giving the people what they want.