Yael Grauer found her calling early in life.
"I started doing activism activities when I was like 12 or 13 years old," she says; "self publishing, stuff like that. I went to this tiny, liberal arts hippie school for college, and when I started trying to find a real job, I was looking at all these nonprofits, because I knew for-profit stuff just wouldn't work for me, for a bunch of reasons."
What Grauer found was a member services representative position with Access Tucson. Now 25, she says, "I was so excited when I found out they were hiring, because what they do is really along the lines of what I believe in." And when Grauer--who's passionate about things in a super-cheerful way--gets excited, things tend to happen ... things like a 31-artist traveling art show shopping off in Tucson for a couple of weeks.
Drawing Resistance, a content-based political art show that has traveled more than 5,000 miles to 19 different cities in its first two years, will be at Muse, 516 N. Fifth Ave., from Sept. 6-24.
"I had organized a benefit for this music festival," says Grauer, "and the organizers of Drawing Resistance were contacting everybody, just trying to make sure it kept moving. I looked at their Web pages and the artwork, and decided to make sure it came to Tucson.
"One of the things that's so cool about it," Grauer continues, "is that it doesn't have any funding; it's totally based on community support and DIY (do-it-yourself) culture. I just love some of the pieces--I mean, I don't agree with every piece we're showing, but that's what's so important. Even in the little activist subculture you have to stir up debate, get people talking about things, instead of just agreeing about everything. And the pieces are covering all sorts of political issues--anti-globalization, homelessness, police brutality--and there's collages, woodblocks, even a quilt. It's just really, really colorful, lively, beautiful artwork; everyone will find something to like."
Organized by Sue Simensky Bietila and Nicolas Lampert, both of Wisconsin, other subjects include working-class rights, the destruction of the environment, corporate control, gentrification, the Zapatista liberation movement in Mexico; and the list goes on. The artists included span three generations; Chicago artist Carlos Cortez has made woodcuts and posters for the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) for the last 50 years; political comic book artists Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper of New York City published World War 3 Illustrated in 1979; and Winston Smith and John Yates are known for album cover-work for the Dead Kennedys and punk rock label Alternative Tentacles.
Drawing Resistance doesn't merely rely on the community in some sort of figurative, flowery sense, either; someone from the host community has to actually load everything up after the show is over and get the exhibit to the next host city. David Sands of the Michigan Citizen wrote, "(Drawing Resistance) doesn't have a lot to do with curators, museums or hard-to-figure-out splotches on the wall. Instead, it has much to do with what's missing from most of the me-me-me money-money-money world of contemporary art. That is, a sense of urgency beyond one's individual self; a feeling of anger-hope-responsibility for the world and the people around us; a bridging between creative and political realities that artists all too often choose to ignore."
Says Grauer, "It's really important to try to open up awareness to different forms of media and alternative perspectives, and if those forms are not available, then to create them. Education is what helps change things; lots of people don't know about globalization, the destruction of the environment, all these other issues, and art is a really good way of doing that. I guess I feel like mainstream media gives one or two choices about what to believe, and a lot of the people who express those choices in the media aren't the everyday people who need to step up and have their voices be heard."
Drawing Resistance will open with something of a party--Jim Kuemmerle will be playing music; Wild Oats is providing free food; and the Gloo Factory and the League of Pissed Off Voters will be tabling.
"The League is a really cool group," says Grauer. "They formed with the goal to swing the election and mobilize young people to vote, but their focus isn't just on this election, it's more of a long-term plan. They have this book, How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office, that they sell for really cheap or even give out for free, and they've got a multi-cultural perspective. I feel like the League is filling a niche in voter registration that's not being filled elsewhere."
A $5 donation is requested for admission--the proceeds will help deliver Drawing Resistance to Flagstaff--but Grauer says no one will be turned away. For more information, call 547-1956.