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Bernie Sanders and the 'art of a political revolution'

"We All Deserve a Future" by artist Greg Auerbach

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Engaging young voters is no easy task, but Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign is taking on that challenge through art. 

Now through the end of January, HVW8 gallery near West Hollywood is staging a show called, "Art of a Political Revolution: Artists for Bernie Sanders."

It's the brainchild of Luis Calderin. He's the arts, culture and youth vote manager for the Bernie Sanders Campaign.

Calderin stopped by the studio to discuss the importance of art in this election season.

Why art?

"Throughout history, every good movement, every good revolution has always had a good visual soundtrack to it," Calderin says.

Calderin realized the power of political art in 2008 after he saw artist Shepard Fairey's now iconic "Hope" poster.

“At that moment, when I saw that image come through, it made me really think about Obama in a different way and say, ‘How does he know about Shepard Fairey? How does this guy know about this street artist?’”

Calderin says the picture made him feel as though then-candidate Barack Obama was a “cool guy,” motivating him to seek more information about his positions.

Calderin remembered the impact that the image had on him when pitching the exhibit to Sen. Sanders. 

Selling Sen. Sanders

“I sat with the Senator about six months ago … and we talked a lot about art and what art is supposed to be for a movement like this,” Calderin says. “We talked about the Obama art during that time and what we wanted this to be and the differences.”

Calderin says Sen. Sanders, like President Obama, was already familiar with some of the street artists who would come to be featured in the exhibit. But he had one particular mandate: the art must be about the issues.

“Don’t make this art about me exclusively," Calderin recalls Sen. Sanders telling him. "Don’t paint me out to be a superhero."

Keeping to this directive, Calderin sought artists who would get people thinking about the presidential candidate in subtle ways. He asked them to look through the campaign website and create works inspired by what they saw. The result is a gallery featuring an array of works; some use images of Sanders, and some are a bit more abstract.

"Title Position E"
"This drawing is the American electorate, disconnected while connected. Alone in a crowd." Artist Sven Barth

The impact on young voters

Calderin is hopeful that the art show will engage young voters and inspire them to research the issues central to Sen. Sanders’ platform, many of which he says impact their generation, including income inequality, college and the environment.

Calderin says Sen. Sanders has not yet seen the exhibit, but he plans to bring a brochure when he sees the Senator in Iowa later this week.

“I know he’s going to be really excited about it,” Calderin says. 

Press the blue play button above to hear the interview.