Mark Vallen's Newsletter. Oct. 2003
Art Activism & Social Change
Drawings by Mark Vallen
A R T  F O R   A  C H A N G E


1) - ARNOLD GOES BANANAS!... Skeletons from the closet of Mark Vallen
2) - SACRAMENTO SHAKEDOWN... An anti-Schwarzenegger Poster from graffiti artist, MEARONE.


Schwarzenegger Poster Illustration by Mark Vallen

In 1983 I created the Illustration shown at left. The image was used as a poster advertising the debut film appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Made in 1970, Hercules goes Bananas was possibly one of the worst films ever made. Schwarzenegger received "acting" credit under the name of Arnold Strong. His heavy accent made his lines almost completely unintelligible... so his voice was dubbed over by that of another. In '83 Filmpartners Inc., a fledgling Hollywood movie distribution company, purchased the rights to re-release the cinematic exercise in tedium. At the time I was a starving artist who desperately needed work, so when Filmpartners asked me to create the movie's poster I agreed to take the assignment for the paltry sum offered. I took no pride in the hack job, which I didn't even bother to sign.

Now, with Arnold Schwarzenegger poised to capture the California Governor's office, I thought I'd take advantage of this moment to reflect on my distant association with the Gubernator, and the many ironies inherent in being a noncommercial artist in a hyper-capitalist society.

While I enjoyed Schwarzenegger's original Terminator science fiction adventure, that in no way makes the muscular movie megastar qualified to hold political office. It's not that I think an actor should not be involved in politics.... just this particular actor! The Los Angeles Times revelations about Schwarzenegger's groping and harassment of a number of women should give everyone pause to think. And the shadowy connections to a neo-nazi past revealed by ABCNews are also extremely disturbing. I urge all of my fellow Californian's to vote NO on the recall.

As for my commercial illustration for Arnold's first movie, it is a perfect example of how all art is political. At the time only a minority of fine art purists and anti-capitalists would have criticized the poster for being of a crass commercial nature (and correctly so). But the great majority innocently saw the movie poster simply as another pop culture image. However, in today's context of Schwarzenegger running for political office, no one can view the image without thinking of politics. That has always been the core reality... all images bear a political message, whether easily recognized or not. My Schwarzenegger poster contributed to the dominant culture, and so it was viewed as not possessing politics. But then years later the terrain shifts and suddenly the poster's political nature leaps to the forefront.

Before you condemn me for contributing to bourgeois culture by producing the Schwarzenegger Poster, ponder the following. When was the last time you supported an artist by purchasing or commissioning works? I took no credit for my artwork and wanted no recognition for it (a shadow crossed my face as I accepted payment for the dirty deed). I only now acknowledge my hand in the production of the poster so as to denounce the Republican power grab that the California Recall Campaign represents.

Mark Vallen
Art For A Change


SACRAMENTO SHAKEDOWN is a poster created by the unusually gifted Los Angeles graffiti artist, MEARONE. The poster (detail at right), rails against gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. The poster is available from the good artist/activists of Artconforma, who are distributing the poster as a way of battling the Republican grab for power in California's recall election. You can see (and purchase) Mear's poster, at:

Detail of "Sacramento Shakedown" poster by Mearone

And while on the subject of MEARONE:

David Lawrence Gallery presents
Opening Reception, Saturday October 11th 7 till ?
Located on the north west corner of Little Santa Monica & Rodeo Dr.
9507 Little Santa Monica Blvd., 3rd Floor. Beverly Hills CA 90210
Private Reception October 10th Must RSVP (310) 278-0882 Public Opening October 11th

See you there. Barbarians, Cyborgs, and Commandos not invited.

Mark Vallen's ART FOR A CHANGE website serves as a resource center for Art Activism. It encourages and promotes the creation of artworks that envision a just, peaceful world. Please inform others of this site, and forward this notice to all appropriate lists and individuals. If you wish to be added or removed from the AFC mailing list, or if you'd rather receive a text only version of this mailing...
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"I admire Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it." ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger.
(Verbatim transcript from a 1975 interview while making the film "Pumping Iron")