Art out the vote
In bright, gigantic letters, the mural on the side of Bleulion Art & Space shouts, “VOTE November 2nd” at passersby. This is only the first of at least four vote murals being painted in Reno, reminding people to be heard this election year.
A group of local artists felt voter anger and apathy was growing in the community, where in recent months the public has been blasted with hardcore campaigning in an effort to determine the ownership of Nevada’s five electoral votes. Though the aim of the politicians is to win voter support, this bombardment may have created a feeling of dissonance.
Valerie Bischoff, Heather Fuss and Erik Burke assembled artists on Saturday and Sunday to paint street-facing walls donated by local businesses, including Peerless Cleaners, Aces Tattoo Parlor, Planned Parenthood and Bleulion Art & Space. They titled the campaign the Voter Beautification Project because it uses art to grab the voter’s attention rather than petitioning, walking precincts and making phone calls.
“Other voter awareness campaigns are just as important,” Burke, a UNR art student, explained between sips of his afternoon coffee. “But calling people at inopportune times doesn’t match our society. We want to use the same methods that work for big companies—like advertisements on billboards. That’s how we’ll be effective.”
The VBP believes that in raising voter turnout through artistic reminders, they will be accomplishing much more. Getting people excited to vote in a new and unique way will also create the desire to continue having an active voice in government, the group hopes.
“We want the community to see that it’s easy to be a part of something,” Burke explained. “Then they can be confidently active and will continue to assemble, doing things like this on their own.”
In an effort to include the whole community, the VBP is also organizing an all-ages Voter Awareness event on Oct. 23 at Satellite Lounge for those 21 and over. The event will start at 8 p.m. and feature music by Keyser Soze. There is a $5 cover charge.
“We want to see a system that returns credibility to our nation,” Burke expanded. “The only way to do that is to rebuild the relationship between our local community and federal government. … We live in the desert; this’ll start a wild fire.”