Mike Smith cornered at Nevada Humanities Program Gallery. Photo: PtD
“Cartooning the Presidency”
Mike Smith, political cartoonist for the Las Vegas Sun, was a teller of soft quips during last night’s opening reception and artist’s talk for “Cartooning the Presidency,” a retrospective of his work at Nevada Humanities’ gallery. One thing that was shared was how he has never seen material come so quickly, then change just as fast. The morning brings political topics that are satire gold for a poking pen, but those same topics are often obsolete by that afternoon’s headlines. Since the filled gallery included staff from the Sun, that was old news to most attendees. And while the current White House has been shoveling rich material to left-leaning cartoonists at major newspapers, Smith revealed that conservative cartoonists are having a topic crisis on how to portray the current president.
The visual journalist’s commentary about Trump is clear. In one piece, the president is shown as a toddler in diapers, masked with a soft orange tan that is a red-in-the-face look at life. Baby Don stands in the middle of the frame, and the epic white space makes a presidency look isolated. The only text are repeated “tweets” that float in the air like soap bubbles, while baby Trump watches, waiting for a response.
The body of Smith’s work, self-curated selections from Bush 1 to Trump, reveals that, in general, thoughtful commentary about POTUS policy is gone for now. It’s not about questioning conflicting ideology, politics of warfare, or tracking corruption. Cartoonists have become the adults babysitting presidential behavior.
“Cartooning the Presidency” runs through September 27 at Nevada Humanities Program Gallery (1017 South First Street, Suite 190) . Added note: Smith's work will be donated to UNLV Digital Collections for archival.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.