Americans celebrated Earth Day a few weeks back, amid great fanfare and wholesome platitudes. Schoolchildren sang paeans to mountains and snails. We were model citizens, picking up piles of trash. There was even a “Council of All Beings” ceremony for earthworms to voice their pain over being called “slimy.”
These are all pressing issues, but the Independence Institute felt something was missing. Where was gratitude for that unsung portion of the earth, her fossil fuels? A constitutional and conservative think tank, the Institute decided an art contest was the best way to voice their gratitude.
Thus, the Earth Day Fossil Fuels Art Contest came into being.
Spokesman Tracy K. Smith told WND their art contest may be limited in scope and lighthearted, but their purpose was serious – to highlight hypocrisy. “While most Earth Day participants decry the use of fossil fuels,” almost all are plugged in, charged up and amplified. “From the coal that produces electricity for the electric vehicles that bring participants to the events, to the spandex pants the participants wear, fossil fuels make Earth Day events possible,” she said.
Planners deliberately baited leftists and nature worshippers, using terms they knew would bring reaction, such as showcasing “the awesomeness of fossil fuels.” The bait worked, and leftists raged – on their plastic computers, connected by fiber optics and satellites.
“Little did we know that our art contest would attract national attention,” said Smith, listing just some of the outraged leftists:
Smith said the April 27 event received entries in several mediums, including poetry, song lyrics and photographs.
First place winner was Sarah Bouma with “Fueling the American Dream.” It was a multimedia piece lauding the joys and possibilities of petroleum. She attributed fossil fuels for life saving medical advances, and predicted our “American Dream will soar like a fossil-fueled airplane!”
Bouma’s artist’s statement also listed almost every medium and tool she used: “I’d like to thank PETROLEUM for providing the following materials used to create this piece: Gas Can (plastic); Markers (plastic); Hot glue and glue gun (plastic); Foam reinforcements [likely from coal or petroleum]; scissors handle (plastic); Cutting mat and hacksaw handle; Band-aids (no comment).”
Valerie Savarie picked up second place with her intriguing and snug sculpture “Obsolete.” Using a vintage book on engines, her 3-D assemblage used photos, an old vacuum tube, wires and other past technology. It was a homage to technological evolution, brought about by petroleum and plastics.
Savarie questioned why coal, oil and gas are considered obsolete: “Coal fuels our factories, gas fuels our transportation, transportation fuels our ability to get goods and fuels our economy,” she wrote. “Fossil fuels – literally from the ground up – provide us the ability to live not as hunter gatherers but as inventors and thinkers.”
Contest critics are among those claiming to live “as hunter-gatherers,” but do nothing even close. Their comments are amusing, especially this email exchange between Independence Institute President Jon Caldara and an indignant Mother Earther (let’s call him “LS”):
Response from Independent Institute to Angry Person
LS: How do you live with yourselves, when you support climate denying organizations that will cause thousands of deaths in the short term and untold destruction in the long term?
JC: Well, Andy, it’s very difficult. But my gas-heated home and my well-chilled beer helps take the sting out of my remorse.
LS: Do you care about anything other than money?
JC: Absolutely. Sex.
LS: How are you going to use money after you die sooner than you would otherwise as a result of destroying Earth’s environment? Lining your coffins doesn’t count.
JC: Oh, Andy, after I die I’m leaving all my money to the angry feminists to use in their fight to get their sense of humor back from the environmentalists.
LS: Do you think a bunch of energy industry lobbyists know more than 97.5 percent of all climate scientists?
JC: Know more about what? Making money from government research grants? Definitely not.
LS: Do you think calling people who would prefer to live and for there to still be a habitable (sic) planet after they die “enviros” is a slick burn?
JC: Slick? Oh, no, not at all. We’re just happy when anything burns.
LS. How much did the devil pay for your souls?
JC: Actually, I sold them to the Koch brothers first, who then marked them up considerably and sold them to the devil. Hence my TV show, “Devil’s Advocate” with Jon Caldara.
Clearly, Angry Person wasn’t interested in the art, but contended that art with such messages should not exist, or be supported.
Leftist site Think Progress had nothing to say about potential art, but smeared the Independence Institute with an utter lack of creativity. Using hackneyed scare tactics, they noted the Institute was funded by “dark money groups” with a repeated refrain of “far right-wing.” Koch Brothers were mentioned several times, although their contribution was the smallest of the donors they listed (fishing back to 2001).
Think Progress would never allow their funds to mingle with such filthy lucre. They use entirely green money – millions come from Walmart and George Soros. Their sole purpose of existence (according to their own site) is to “push back” against its conservative targets.
This is far from the first petro-sponsored or themed art contest, but it may have the most attitude. In 2015, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum called for children K-12 to create “original art reflecting energy use: past, present or future.” Winners received gift cards from Hobby Lobby (engaged in its own war with Liberaldom at the time).
Chevron hosts joint ventures in Africa with the Ministry of Education. It’s an annual arts competition for children, driven by “pertinent themes in line with current social issues.” This year’s subject was “Waste to Wealth.”
Shell Oil sponsors art contests across the Philippines for secondary students, bringing in some truly extraordinary art. Prizes help them with school funds or sponsorship. In 2012, Leomar C. Conejos won first place in Shell’s contest with his painting, “Child Trafficking.”
Petro-giant Texaco has hosted art contests for children for at least 63 years, with seven different themes annually for differing grade levels, such as portraits or watercolors. It’s quite impressive, really.
Although the petro-industry has its faults, holding art contests is a benign, if not gracious, activity. None of these seek political commentary, or promote the industry. How will Think Progress twist this into a scandal? Will it accuse them of a vast right-wing conspiracy to sell more (oil-based) Crayolas?