ART: People In Jail Drawing People Who Should Be

Paint Prisoner


THE GUARDIAN: The Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and BP’s former boss Tony Hayward have had their mugshots drawn by a group of inmates as part of an art project entitled “Captured: people in prison drawing people who should be”. None of the executives have been convicted of a crime, but the two New York City-based activists behind Captured have listed the “offenses” they claim the companies the executives oversaw perpetrated alongside the actual crime of the convict who drew them. Goldman Sachs, for example, is accused of “mass deception” and “stealing taxpayers money”. Last month the firm paid $5bn to settle charges it mis-sold mortgage-backed bonds in the run-up the financial crisis, the latest in a series of fines related to its role in a crisis that triggered the worst recession in living memory. His portrait is drawn by Ryan Gragg, who is serving 15 years for murder.

Tony Hayward was BP’s boss during the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, the worst oil spill in US history and a disaster that claimed the lives of 11 workers. BP is accused of “manslaughter” and “environmental crimes” among other charges by the project. Hayward was drawn by Benjamin Gonzalez, who is serving nine years for robbery. “If you took a whole bucket of crimes our convicted artists committed, they would line up with the types of crimes our companies have committed,” said Jeff Greenspan, who created the project with Andrew Tider. The pair were behind the installation of a bust of Edward Snowden at a Brooklyn park, but this project throws their complaints with corporate America into stark relief: inmate Kim Vanpelt, who is on death row for capital murder, drew the CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan.

BofA’s rap sheet lists: “conspiracy, fraud, securities fraud, theft.” And the billionaire Koch Brothers are featured for facilitating “mass deception,” “public endangerment” and “rigging the system”. Greenspan and Tider created the project to bring attention to corporate misdeeds. “From what we’ve researched, the actions of CitiBank have done a lot more damage to you and I and everyone we know in the community than just a stolen car,” said Greenspan. The portraits and rap sheets can be seen on the project website and in a $40 book, the entire profits of which will be directed to the Bernie Sanders campaign. MORE

CHARLES KOCH: As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he’s running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy. Even so, I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season. That’s why, in spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one — an issue that resonates with people who feel that hard work and making a contribution will no longer enable them to succeed. The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him. At this point you may be asking yourself, “Is Charles Koch feeling the Bern?” MORE

REASON: Last August, Jon Schwarz over at The Intercept wrote a piss-take about how if the dreaded Koch brothers* really cared about corporate welfare and criminal justice reform and intervention-skepticism, instead of just cynically using those issues to make their self-interested policy atrocities go down smoother, then they would be backing the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. “The alternative to taking the Koch brothers at their word,” Schwarz wrote, “is to conclude that all the stuff they say that progressives love is just a scam — that when it’s time to get out their checkbooks to put people in office, the only thing they actually care about is whether those politicians will make them richer.” MORE