Mark Vallen's Newsletter © Nov '04
Art Activism & Social Change
Artworks by Mark Vallen
A R T  F O R   A  C H A N G E


1) - DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL... Artists Mark Vallen & Poli Marichal Interviewed on NBC
2) - COMBAT ZONE... Neo-Con Comic Book Heroes to Occupy Iraq
3) - BEMOANING MOMA... Billionaires Hold Art Hostage
4) - PRAXIS: CALL FOR ARTICLES... Drama for Social Transformation
5) - GRAPHIC AGITATION II... Social & Political Graphics in the Digital Age

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NBC television interviews Vallen and Marichal
Sports, Weather, Car Chases, and
Socially Conscious Artists!

Artists Mark Vallen & Poli Marichal Interviewed on NBC Television

This past October, 2004, NBC Channel 4 News of Los Angeles (, aired a story on how two of LA's socially conscious artists are creating artworks in reaction to the world's tumultuous events.

The station's arts & culture reporter, Cary Berglund, interviewed Mark Vallen and Poli Marichal in their respective studios as they discussed how their art is influenced by the world around them, but also how they use their art to have an impact upon society.

Vallen is of course the Los Angeles artist and advocate for a new social realism behind the Art For A Change website. Poli Marichal is an exceptional painter and printmaker who has exhibited in Puerto Rico (her birthplace), Mexico, and the United States. She currently resides and works in Los Angeles. You can see examples of her linocuts and woodcuts, at:

Berglund's sympathetic interview with the two included close up views of their potent artworks addressing war, the AIDS crisis, immigration, and other vital issues of the day. The viewing audience also heard some fairly unusual statements for an evening news broadcast, example: Berglund; Mark is one of many artists in Los Angeles who is fed by our political climate. Vallen; Everything is connected... so single issue politics I am not interested in. What goes on in LA goes on in El Salvador, goes on in Baghdad. Marichal; What I do is help someone see injustice in a different light, and then see that they can do something about it.

Aired on NBC's late afternoon broadcast Thursday October 14th. at 5:45, the story was a rare exception to American television's standard mindless fare of sports, weather, and car chases. One can only hope that interviews with artists of all disciplines could become regular features on local news stations.

Neo-Con Comic Book Heroes
to Occupy Iraq

When the world’s most formidable superpower militarily occupies Iraq, but fails to stamp out guerilla resistance, what is to be done? Why, call in the American Comic Book Super Heroes of course! In January 2005, Marvel Comics, originators of Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and other Herculean champions, will introduce the latest vanquishers of evil doers… American GI's. Combat Zone: True Stories of GI's in Iraq, will be a five part miniseries about the war in Iraq.

Marvel Comic Super Heroes
Marvel Comic Super Heroes

No, the super heroes won’t be shown finding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, remember, these are supposed to be true stories. Nevertheless, it’s doubtful the comic books will reveal anything approaching truthfulness, since their author is none other than Karl Zinsmeister. He’s the editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise… the publication of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute. Zinsmeister is also the author of Boots on the Ground, and Dawn Over Baghdad, books based on his experiences as an “embedded” reporter for the US Army during the present war. Dawn can only be described as a neo-con flight of fancy on the molding of Iraq into a western style Jeffersonian democracy. Assisting in the production of this pro-war comic is artist Dan Jurgens (who has also worked on Thor and Superman). Since the fantasy realm of the weird and the far-fetched is a mainstay for Marvel Comics, Zinsmeister’s jingoistic hallucination should make a fine comic book.

MOMA, elitist museum keeps out the poor
MOMA, elitist museum keeps out the poor.

Billionaires Hold Art Hostage

To grand applause New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), reopened in midtown Manhattan on November 20th, 2004. Home to works of art like Van Gogh's Starry Night (1889), Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), Matisse's Dance (1909), and Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Cropped Hair (1940), MOMA possesses a world class collection like no other.

But there is another side to this vaunted institution, and the bourgeois art world is mute regarding the calamity.

While many have questioned the wisdom of MOMA’s relocation and renovation
(a project that cost 425 million dollars), the true outrage is to be found in MOMA increasing admission charges by 67%… making it the most expensive museum in America. The institution will now charge visitors $20 per entry. The New York Daily News irately ridiculed, "Hey, we don't wanna BUY the art!"

MOMA’s steep admission price marks an ominous trend… that of transforming art museums into privatized establishments where only the wealthy can afford entry. While a $20 dollar ticket will not prevent most people from visiting once a year, only rich persons can afford to be regular guests. All of society will suffer as a consequence. Gone are the days when art students and other aspiring artists could pore over a museum’s collection at little or no cost. High entry fees constitute an irreparable loss for low income people seeking inspiration and stimulation from art. The terrible irony is that, as in the past, up and coming artists can’t afford steep admission prices to view great works of art. MOMA has effectively abandoned its most celebrated purpose… that of being an institution that inspires artists.

An unsatisfactory sop offered to working people regarding admission prices came from the investment bank, JP Morgan Chase, whose philanthropy assures the new museum's opening day will be free to the public. But that is clearly not enough. While the privileged may enjoy the new MOMA, the rest of New York’s citizens… and indeed the world’s people, are denied access to what should be freely enjoyed by all. Art does not solely belong to those with money, it is the shared treasure and
heritage of all humankind.

Drama for Social Transformation

Praxis has been defined as the action and reflection of people upon their world in order to transform it (Friere 1972) and the act of reflectively constructing or reconstructing the social world (Grundy 1987). With this orientation in mind, Dr. Marnie Carroll and Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick are seeking article submissions for an edited book on the social uses of drama and dramatic techniques. Submissions should demonstrate either implicitly or explicitly why dramatic techniques are especially or uniquely appropriate in effecting social change, critique, and/or action. The overall goal of the project is to elucidate how using drama for social purposes is essentially different from using art, sport, writing, music, or other activities. It is hoped that authors will represent a variety of fields and professions, including sociology, psychology and counseling, social policy, social care and social work, drama and theatre, and media and communications.

Submissions should be approximately 5,000-10,000 words, typed double spaced, and should use Harvard referencing style. Deadline: March 1, 2005. (Abstracts may also be submitted via email for consideration well prior to the deadline.) Please send two hard copies by post to either: Dr. Marnie Carroll, 13C Seton Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508 USA or Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, School of Humanities Dept. of Applied Arts, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford IRELAND.

For more information on the project and complete details on how to submit writings, contact: or

Cover of "Graphic Agitation II"

Social & Political Graphics in the Digital Age

Liz McQuiston's book on the subject of contemporary protest art is a rich collection of artworks from around the world that deal with a variety of issues, from wars in the Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo, to AIDS activism, the struggle for human rights, and the anti-globalization and ecology movements. Along with dozens of other talented artists, the artwork of Mark Vallen is included in this exhaustive study of modern agitational graphics.

Published by Phaidon Press, this 240 page book is comprehensively illustrated and presents dissident artworks from the traditional to the shocking, from high-tech to
no-tech. Paintings, drawings, and posters are displayed side by side with street art, postcards, t-shirts... even screen shots of websites. You can order your copy of this essential book for 37% off, at:
The ART FOR A CHANGE © newsletter encourages and promotes the creation of artworks that envision a just, peaceful world. If you wish to be added or removed from the AFC mailing list, or if you'd rather receive text only versions of this mailing, send an e-mail request to
"I have my principles, and if you don't like them... I have others." ~ Groucho Marx