ART FOR A BETTER WORLD
- Images For A Better World: Matt REED, Visual Artist
Matt Reed is an artist, educator, and radical leftist currently living in Cincinnati, OH. His work has appeared in galleries in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Los Angeles, and Munich. His illustrations have been used for magazines, comic books, t-shirts, and music album covers. Reed received a degree in art from the Columbus College of Art and Design and has worked as an art teacher in public schools for over a decade. His work is frequently political, focusing on the devastation of war, the oppression of capitalism, and the destruction of our natural environment. In addition, he is influenced deeply by the passage of time, the fantastic or absurd, and his childhood obsessions.
The drawings and paintings Reed creates seek not to impose an ideology but rather to express a mixture of his concerns and interests. Most recently he has been selling small portraits of semi-obscure cartoon characters to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, and has just begun a series of black and white drawings dealing with alienation.
Reed created ’Tea Party 3000’ before the Occupy movement began. His piece, however, could just have easily been titled: Rule of the 1%.
In ‘Election Day’ Reed’s intent is not to make a statement against voting, which he feels is important, but rather to express his frustration with our two political parties. He sees the politicians affiliated to these parties spending all their time fighting each other, serving the interests of corporations, trying to get re-elected… instead of doing what is best for the people they are supposed to represent.
‘Reason Is Still Sleeping’ is Reed’s take on a Goya print, with an attempt to express his outrage at our military involvement in Iraq. At the time it was created, he felt that people’s sense of reason was indeed sleeping. In it, Reed also tried to insert his slightly twisted sense of humor, adding at the same time absurd pop culture references.
Designing symmetrical images is very pleasing to Reed and he often includes them in his work. In ‘You Will Be Recycled’ he tries to show our connection to the natural world and, with a tongue-in cheek title, stresses the importance of recycling.
‘Take Away Love and our Earth Is a Tomb’ is after a quote by Robert Browning. In it Reed means simply to state that love and humanity are most important and that without them we’re left with nothing.
- Words For A Better World: Sue Neufarth Howard, Literary Artist
Sue Neufarth Howard, a Cincinnati native, is a published poet and a visual artist. She graduated from Miami University, Oxford, in Speech-Radio/TV and from UC Evening College, in Art. She has won several prizes and awards for her poetry that she has been writing since 1986. Her poems have been about nature; memories of childhood; significant persons in her life; life observations and feelings. Recently she has written about people behaving badly or heroically, the sadness of the troubled, the pain engendered by violence, the hope and creativity of the 99%…
- “Cemetery: Gathering Timber, Helping Lost Souls,” an article, by Cliff Radel in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sunday, February 7, 2010, inspired Sue Neufarth Howard to write the following poem. It is about a man who has known much of his own trouble, yet devoted to helping the troubled.
A Friend of Need
When his mother died in his arms, ex-cop Joe
began his cemetery beat in an old battered
truck, seeking grounded timber to carve
for walking sticks he gives away,
looking for lost souls on the verge of self-harm.
The deeply distressed take heed.
He makes a connection, offers a gift,
their name on a sketch of Jesus.
Joe sees an armed stranger in distress, leaves
his truck, approaches from the side, never from behind.
Like a man still wearing a badge, walks boldly, softly.
With eye contact, he pushes a button on the valve
in his neck, utters, “My Friend,” a breathy, raspy
He’s a former smoker, two packs a day;
Cancer survivor. Throat surgery took his voice, his job.
His offering – a pencil drawing of Jesus. Asks
the stranger for his name, writes it into the hair
on the sketch – inquires about his troubles.
Joe’s taken away four guns this way,
one from a young man on the mausoleum floor,
January 12. In the book of visitor’s notes that day
this entry: “Mom I wanted to see you. I tried
to kill myself today but a man found and helped me.”
- Sue Neufarth Howard finds inspiring how the homeless can creatively make a nest-like home for themselves from found objects and scraps. She finds it also shameful how they can be mistreated and victimized for their efforts and their situation by cruel and unsympathetic people. A story from an article in City Beat, “A Simple Rough Life,” inspired her poem.
Among any large group of trees in the city,
makeshift neighborhoods – camps
versus street, shelters, couch, car,
making do with a patchwork of discarded
scraps on a rugged nugget of land, less home
than you or I, a homeless adaption.
We all have a need for setting up a home,
a need to be settled.
Seven days a week, sunup to sundown
living a pioneer’s life, just surviving
without electricity, running water,
heat, showers and laundry,
resisting pelted rocks, eggs,
harassment, threats, beatings,
bonding with like settlers, making their
own rules, needing to know those around them.
Makeshift neighborhoods – less home
but more light inside which the heart stirs.
- Green gardens sprouting in the midst of bleak urban gray, bringing color, life, health, and joyfulness, among the daily bad news of war, urban violence, debt, foreclosure, inspired Sue Neufarth Howard to write the following poem. It is based on “Fresh Off the Farm – in Cincinnati,” an article by Krista Ramsey in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sunday, June 5, 2011.
A bright spot on Pleasant
Street, a garden plot, Mattie’s
Dream – the green revolution.
Verdant rows and rows of
crops on deserted lots
in Over-The-Rhine. Collard
greens, red Russian kale,
squash, tomatoes, arugula,
each plant given a name –
Mattie, Buddy, Ricardo – and
serenaded with Michael
Jackson songs, the work of
city farmers. New urban gardens
rooted in place, for now, like
street lights and sidewalks, a
mystical way of bringing
people together, a way to
control one’s destiny. Hands
in the dirt, growing food
and jobs, better diets,
good for the soul.
- One day, walking in Over-The-Rhine, Sue Neufarth Howard noticed a cellophane-wrapped, fresh bouquet of red roses left abandoned. Startled by the sight, she stopped to contemplate why it had been left there. Its mystery triggered in her the following poem.
13th Street, Over-The-Rhine
On a weedy trash-strewn
abandoned tenement lot
lies a bouquet of ruby roses
still wrapped in cellophane
at the brink of wilt
out of nurturing hands
entangled perhaps in a
crossfire of anger
discarded in the aftermath of
destined to fade
ruins of dashed dreams
voyeur to this
fresh spilt ruby blood
reluctant to rescue
pay last respects
- The savage, senseless murder of a young, innocent, creative teenage girl, who attended the performing arts school where Sue Neufarth Howard’s daughter was educated, incensed her to put her feelings into words.
The girl, tender bloom
of the woman-to-be
unwitting, in the path
of the human tempest.
She is raped, burned,
the defiler’s prey.
He, roiling mass of pent up
misery, rampant anger,
God, the designer,
must be weeping
humanity – set in motion,
only to collide in
A judgment of death –
too easy, can’t wash away
the deed, the evil doer.
Prison caged, in pain,
privation – he suffers,
we remember, we warn.
The soul of the girl rises
from brokenness, unblemished
while his soul festers.
- Sue Neufarth Howard believes that some of the worst crimes committed are a result of a lack of anger and rage management, often also combined with substance abuse. When she heard about the following story in the media, intense anger and volcanic explosion came to her mind, and evolved into the following poem.
In Alabama, under shrouded moon, atop
a river bridge, a man hurls one helpless,
sleepy child after another over the rail,
until all four infants sink
like leaden boulders
to the depths, eighty feet below.
In a fiery blast, hot rock and
sticky silica lava under pressure
erupt violently from the fissure,
releasing the slow building
heat of the mountain’s core.
Angry after a second fight
with his wife, Lam Luong,
Vietnamese, cocaine user,
confessed to tossing
the children, one not his own,
to their deaths.
The mountain, hollowed out,
its fury spent,