WASHINGTON. Utah-based American artist Jon McNaughton paints controversial works. “Controversial,” of course, is MSM and Democrat left-speak for anything in culture, government or jurisprudence that exists to the right of Josef Stalin, the old Soviet Union’s bloodiest Marxist dictator. Recently, McNaughton tweeted an image of his latest painting, entitled Crossing the Swamp. Almost immediately, images of the painting went viral.
Inspired by Emanuel Leutze’s classic
Art lovers and old-fashioned American patriots will immediately recognize this painting’s strong resemblance to that classic – no, iconic – 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze. That artist’s name has since become mostly forgotten. But his immortal gift to pro-American propaganda, Washington Crossing the Delaware, lives on.
Yes, Leutze’s painting is almost certainly a complete Romanticization of Washington’s still-heroic (and stealthy) move. Its patriotic imagery does, at least for lefty art critics, come dangerously close to kitsch if you want to look at it that way.
That said, however, nearly everybody knows this painting or has seen a photo of it. And most U.S. citizens possessing at least a rudimentary education probably know what the painting means. Even if they don’t believe in our durable American mythology.
Crossing the Swamp: Conservative revisionism at its best
In Crossing the Swamp, McNaughton revises Leutze’s scene and imagery and updates it to 2018, substituting contemporary figures in the Trump administration, including the President. He places them and the President, all clad in 21stcentury military fatigues, in a similar rickety, low-riding rowboat. But instead of the frosty Delaware River, he substitutes a fanciful but metaphorically true vision of an autumnal or winter version of the Potomac. (Or perhaps, Rock Creek.)
But this central body of water is less a river than it is a slow flowing swamp. It flows slowly, thick with a choking mat of vegetation and teeming with hungry alligators. One or two of the oarsmen attempt to beat them back.
Indeed, much of today’s ceremonial Washington was built on a swamp. So in Crossing the Swamp, all McNaughton is really doing is bringing it back for metaphorical purposes. We know this because it’s obvious. The dome of the U.S. Capitol looms ominously in the fog-enshrouded distance, emerging from a gloomy thicket of trees devoid of leaves.
Yes, McNaughton’s update is stating the obvious. At least it’s obvious to anyone who’s not a card-carrying “Democratic Socialist.”
After all, somebody has to upset the political apple cart in today’s Washington swamp. And, as far as the artist is concerned, President Trump and his loyal inner circle are just the ones to spearhead a new American revolution to restore the freedoms that this country has allowed to erode for over 50 years.
In his tweet, McNaughton provides a subtext for the painting. That’s likely in case the average, snarky, left-wing art critic doesn’t “get” what the painting means.
“Never give up. Never lower your light. Never stop till the swamp is dry.”
My new painting – “Crossing the Swamp”
“Never give up. Never lower your light.
Never stop till the swamp is dry.” – Jon McNaughton
For a list of figures in the boat: https://t.co/ZIPdkBgcFU pic.twitter.com/CTPndvK5LM
— Jon McNaughton (@McNaughtonArt) July 31, 2018
Interpreting Crossing the Swamp
In Jon McNaughton’s painting a determined President Trump is holds a real and symbolic lantern. It’s a symbol of hope. A hope that this beleaguered administration can shine light upon the darkness of Washington’s entrenched globalist Deep State. Crossing the Swamp promotes Trump as a new Washington leading the American people to drive out the Deep State and reclaim their capital city and their freedom in the process.
McNaughton mentioned a few more ideas incorporated into his painting when he recently communicated with Breitbart.com.
“Trump endeavors to cross the ‘swamp’ of Washington DC as he carries the light of truth, hope, and prosperity. The murky water of the deep state is laced with dangerous vermin, perfectly willing to destroy American prosperity for their personal ideologies and financial gain,” McNaughton said of his latest painting on his website.
“The artist also added that he hopes people can take the opportunity to study the painting’s “deeper meaning.”
Enter critics, Deep Staters and trolls
Unfortunately, as most who align right of center recognize, what’s left of TV and cable news networks and all the wealthy socialists running the nation’s social media portals will either studiously ignore McNaughton’s iconography or trash it rather than discussing it.
However, some of the lefty cranks still evince a sharp sense of humor as Breitbart notes.
“But many Twitter users took the opportunity to post their snarky observations rather than deep reflections on the painting.”
For our money, the funniest comment / trollery posted on Breitbart noted the presence of the First Lady in McNaughton’s patriotic boat.
“ok but Melania wouldn’t be caught dead in a camo hunting jacket”
Our opinion: Pretty good, dude.
The neglected genre of Conservative art and artists
McNaughton’s painting captures the essence of the original, while completely transforming and updating it. Whether it’s the artist’s intention or not, his imagery retains the original’s heroism and iconography. However, the fleeting expressions flashing across the faces of many of the boat’s occupants are wryly humorous. Each expression provides a spark of insight as to the various political and social quirks of the boat’s motley crew.
This surprisingly light touch evokes a patriotic past event that’s symbolically repeating itself within the confines of Washington’s dangerous, murky, and predator-infested swamp. And yet, like Leutze’s original, McNaughton’s revisionist twist also offers us that shining beacon, that ray of hope that impossible odds may still be overcome.
McNaughton’s painting is one example of a small but persistent school of photo-realistic and often idealistic conservative art that’s arisen since the midpoint of the 20thcentury. This is art in service to a philosophy of life and economics that embraces capitalism and the virtues of hard work and creative industry.
We find a rather different example of this genre in Nick Gaetano’s heroic Art Deco-styled vision of Ayn Rand’s seminal “Atlas Shrugged,” which appears to the right. It’s part of a series Gaetano has built that riffs on various works of this legendary and still “controversial” Objectivist philosopher-novelist.
Conservative art vs. Marxist art
Even the few remaining conservative art critics would class this genre in the same category as Impressionism or Constructivism. Yet conservative, libertarian and objectivist art is at least as powerful in its promotion and propagandization of underlying conservative ideals as Diego Garcia-style pro-Marxist art. (But that colorfully proletarian propaganda is what lefty art critics reflexively admire.)
Whatever one thinks personally, those who still espouse traditional American values should be aware that this still shadowy school of conservative art and artists. If you like what you see, prints of this flavor of conservative art are generally for sale via the artist’s website or through an aggregate site that collects like-minded artists together.
McNaughton’s website is here. You can find the work of Nick Gaetano and additional non-political artists painting in a similar realistic or surrealistic fashion at Quent Cordair’s durable website here.
Headline image: Jon McNaughton’s Crossing the Swamp: List of figures from left to right:Nikki Haley, James Mattis, Ben Carson, President Trump, Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, Melania Trump, Mike Pompeo, Sarah Sanders, Ivanka Trump, John Bolton, Kellyanne Conway, John Kelly. Fair use of image in review discussing the artist and his painting.
*Note:Nick Gaetano’s image of “Atlas Shrugged” is copyright Nick Gaetano, 2006. Reproduced here as fair use in discussion of this and related works of art.