The face of American culture continues to change through the use of firearms. Weapons appear in our movies, music, nightly news and politics making them synonymous with contemporary culture. This could not be more relevant in light of growing concerns in recent months about aggressive police tactics. Mesa Contemporary’s current group exhibition “ARTillery” looks at the art of the weapon as object and a major influence. The textbook definition of a weapon is “a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage”. Roughly 50 artists present their own definitions, including Charles Krafft, Shepard Fairey, Brian M. Viveros, Kevin Grass, Angel Cabrales, David Amoroso, Eve Plumb, Abel Alejandre, and more. For some, there is a common ground between art and weapons, as in the satirical ceramic creations of Charles Krafft. Here, he presents weapons like the grenade as an object of design which should be respected. They can be both beautiful and disturbing at the same time. This is an idea also presented in Brian M. Vivieros’ portraits. His painting “If Looks Could Kill” plays with these opposing symbols of war and beauty, where a girl seductively peers through machine gun bullets. To Viveros, these motifs also represent strength. Guns and helmets provide his subjects with the ability to protect themselves. Beautiful, decorative, macabre, even comical, these are just a few of the pieces that reconsider weaponry as art. Take a look at “ARTillery” below.
Brian M. Viveros