What’s the difference between poker and politics? Some would argue nothing — they’re both games, contests of will and skill that crown a winner and bury a loser. Some would argue everything in life is deducible to a game. Hasbro, the toy company behind The Game of Life, certainly would.
Artists hanging their work at Del Ray Artisans’ newest exhibit, Love, Politics, and Scrabble: The Games We Play, tackle the theme literally and metaphorically. A photograph of the McDonald’s Monopoly game hangs alongside a framed drawing of pills representing the solution to puzzling mind games, like attention deficit disorder and insomnia.
“It’s not about the games that pills play with your mind, it’s about beating the games in your head,” said artist Bonnie Ferguson Butler about “Head Games,” her pastel entry.
The meanings of each piece vary by artist — and viewer — said Linda Elliff, co-curator at Del Ray Artisans. And the subject matters vary even more. Elliff and co-curator Barbara Boehm wanted to have an interpretive exhibit that challenged artists but was also entertaining, and few things are inherently more fun than games.
“The artists are telling us they’ve had such fun with this,” Elliff said. “It’s challenged them, whether it’s about love, politics, tennis or ‘Angry Birds.’”
Alexandria photographer David Kosar took the political route with one of his entries and went literal with the other. His “A New Hope?” layers a color photo of President Barack Obama at his inauguration over another from former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. It’s a comment on the Washington players Obama inherited from the Clinton administration and proof that little was actually “new” about Obama’s presidency, he said.
“Politics is one of the biggest games of all,” said Kosar, a lobbyist and yoga instructor who still wants Hillary Clinton as president.
Kosar’s other entry is artistically abstract but literal in its symbolism.
“It’s just trash on the street of Miami,” he said.
But it’s not “just trash.” “Consumerism” is a crumpled and weathered McDonald’s bag pasted naturally to the street with fire-red ketchup packets and advertisements for the fast food chain’s Monopoly contest. It’s strangely attractive on the asphalt next to a paint-splattered curb in Miami’s arts district.
“It’s really whatever you want it to be,” Kosak said. “We live in a disposable, wasteful society, but we also love our games.”
Love, Politics, and Scrabble: The Games People Play opens Friday at Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. It runs through February 24. Opening reception is Friday at 7 p.m.