Art Inspection

Signs of Life: Our Hollywood Protest Project

A few months back, The Standard decided it was time to stand up. Frankly, it didn’t feel like much of a choice, and ever since, we’ve been seeking out ways to support constructive activism and lasting social progress, whether through seeking out the wisdom of activists and icons on the front lines; using our spaces to bring people together around specific issues; or putting edifying books in your rooms.

Meanwhile, over at The Standard, Hollywood, an act of protest has been taking shape—one that’s visible the moment you step into our lobby. Inspired by the clever, incisive, and downright righteous signs of the Women’s March this year, our brilliant art installation expert, Jenni Boelkens, put out a call to our community of artist friends for protest signs. The results have been overwhelming. We must have touched a nerve because the signs just kept pouring in, spilling out of The Box (our iconic vitrine), and onto the walls of the lobby.
The results have been so good, in fact, that we’re hosting an event to celebrate them. On May 18th, we’ll be hosting a silent auction at The Standard, Hollywood with pieces valued between $25 and $1500, and all proceeds going to the ACLU. Join us for drinks, speeches, and musical performances. Scroll down for the invite. 
To put all this activity in context, we asked Jacqueline Suskin, our one-time poet-in-residence, and our personal poet laureate, to write some words about the place of protest in our public and private lives. And don't miss a preview of the posters below. 

Poet and Activist Jacqueline Suskin on the Act of Protest

There are many effective types of protest, and countless ways to make objections.  History provides us with proof that major change can occur when people mobilize and stand up for their beliefs—The Civil Rights movement, Act Up, and Occupy Wall Street are powerful examples. When I consider my own practice of demonstration, I often think in categories of public and private. Privately, I set aside time to read articles, sign petitions, and make phone calls to state representatives. I sit at my desk and write essays to send out into the world. I believe we must commit to whatever we find that works best for us when we are dealing with our singular capacity to create change.

But along with solitary work, there is undeniable power in public protest. When we paint our signs and show up together for a cause, we create a statement much larger than our private expressions of disapproval. When we march together in the streets, when we chant in unison, and when we expose our dissent en mass, we send a message of collective concern. Together we show that this political system in our country isn’t just intolerable on an individual level, but on a collective level as well, and that we are all devoted to the work of dismantling it. 

Beyond this crucial display of unity as a direct image for the people in power, public protest serves as evidence that we aren’t alone in our fight. I remember attending my first peaceful demonstration in high school in objection to the first Iraq war. In our small Florida town only thirty people showed up, but to be surrounded by even this small crew of like-minded people brought me incomparable comfort. I wasn’t the only one! I asked an elderly woman, clearly a protest veteran with peace signs painted on her cheeks, if she ever cried about the state of the world. She said yes. What a relief to discover I wasn’t the only one who cried! By the end of the rally, we were crying together and that solidarity provided me not only with relief, but also with fuel for future acts of dissent.

Each time I march with a crowd of protestors, I feel a kind of deep healing. When we gather ourselves in unison, we make visible our dedication to causes. And this exhibition of active consensus is a gift of reciprocal inspiration. Sometimes, when the work is hard, preaching to the choir is actually necessary—in order to remind each other that the choir exists at all. I accept that I cannot resist this appalling regime alone. I need to know that hundreds and thousands of people are with me. I need to be reminded that the world is full of good human beings who want good things to happen. I need to read their carefully hand-painted signs that express the same outrage and the same hope that I have.

Public protest is a symbol of allied strength, but it also provides us with a dose of faith in humanity. It reaffirms my belief in the power of purposeful collaboration. Without fail, I leave a march or rally feeling that it is true: we need each other and the strength of our interdependence is real.

A selection of MOBILIZE!

David Browne with his son Theo
Diana Taylor with her daughters Laia and Adelaide
Chris Youssef, Edward Cushenberry, Maxwell McMaster, Aaron Elvis Jupin and Aryo Toh Djojo


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