Mayor Cynthia Chase called for President Trump’s impeachment in front of a crowd of over 100 at Santa Cruz Indivisible’s (SCI) first ResistFest. Santa Cruz was the 11th city in the nation to submit an impeachment resolution, written by SCI and passed unanimously by city council.
The Indivisible movement is a national network that has grown from 300 to 6,000 chapters nationwide since January. The objective of these progressive groups is to form resistance to the Republican agenda under the Trump administration. The group questions the current system of government and addresses issues such as racial inequality and climate change. ResistFest, held on Sept. 23, marked the launch of a series of upcoming community educational events.
While the impeachment resolution was a highlight, political art and performances spread across the Museum of Art and History (MAH), Abbott Square and Cooper Street. About 1,000 residents attended ResistFest, which promoted community and civic engagement through political art installations. SCI organized the event in collaboration with East County Indivisible. In addition to 11 issue-related stations, called parklets, there were musical and spoken word performances and political printmaking.
“We are trying to have interaction instead of transaction,” said art curator for ResistFest and SCI volunteer Rebecca Goldman. “[We are trying to create] a public space where people can have conversations with each other […] but they are focused on an issue and they are supported by visual art.”
The interactive art spaces were inspired by PARK(ing) Day, a worldwide event during which participants turn parking spaces into temporary parks. At ResistFest, 11 parklets represented issues including women’s rights, human and civil rights and health care.
Conversations and community building were encouraged by the parklets’ design, mixing art installations with comfortable furniture that recreated the feeling of a living room. A sculpture of a house on fire at the women’s rights parklet represented domestic violence as the number one precursor of houseless women.
ResistFest curator Rebecca Goldman said concepts that are difficult to explain can be understood by visual representation, especially when engaging with people from different backgrounds and political views. Participants could also mail postcards to representatives about their conversations or join resistance with SCI.
Walking into the human and civil rights parklet, attendees were encouraged to hang a handwritten note describing a privilege on a clothesline. They were invited to sit and discuss that privilege with volunteers in couch chairs. From the chairs, they could watch local artist Elijah Pfotenhauer paint a large canvas of people’s faces.
Pfotenhauer’s painting of people together in a pastoral setting produced a communal and earthy aesthetic, reflecting his artistic goals of community engagement.
“I’m into breaking down stereotypes, just showing people being people, no matter what color [and] connecting us through recognizing our similarities,” Pfotenhauer said.
Making art is political, especially in an educational setting, Pfotenhauer said. He said he enjoys supporting activism with visual representation because it allows grassroots movements to be taken as seriously as corporations. Pfotenhauer often produces public works because he believes art can unite diverse groups.
“Visual communication is very powerful,” Pfotenhauer said. “It allows us to look inside of ourselves and express feelings we might not have words for, to start conversations.”