Des Moines
Des Moines

this week

weekly art forecasts from Central Iowa

Who’s exhibiting and opportunities for artists

Pop portraiture and a new interpretation of an old revolution.

Buffalo Bonker, Cuatro

June 2012

Installation shot at Cuatro

Review by guest contributor Chad Michael Cox

June 4, 2012

The Buffalo Bonker exhibit at Cuatro Burrito and Taco Bar offers a mixture of pop culture portraits (Munsters, Bob Marley) and focused interpretations of traditional pieces from the French Revolution such as Liberty leading the People by Eugene Delacroix and two Jacques Louis David works, Bonaparte Crossing the Great Saint Bernards Pass and Death of Marat. It is an odd pairing indeed to see Herman Munster beside Napoleon Bonaparte, an effect which asks the viewer if the oil paintings of the revolution are equal to the pop icons of today. Certainly these pieces have become commonplace, but Bonker zooms in on each piece, forcing the viewer to see the revolution anew. Bonker’s depiction of Lady Liberty leaves her headless, focusing on the men at her feet, the pistol blazing boy to her left. He has stripped away the vaunted ideals of the rebel, leaving only the dead, the begging, and the young who are about to die. It is a vibrant work, and represents a departure from Bonker’s more familiar pop portraiture. One can feel the artist approaching a breakthrough as he searches for a new interpretation of an old revolution.

Installation shot at Cuatro

More than just imitation, these paintings explore deeper issues of legacy and revisionist history. Do we remember Marat for who he was or what he has now become: a work of art? Do we embrace Bob Marley the man or do we identify ourselves with what he represents: unity. Are we comfortable resting on the surface of pop culture, or should we dive deeper into the meaning of it all?

Perhaps in response to these questions, Bonker has displayed his work without identification or sale price.

Chad Michael Cox is an award winning author whose work has appeared in numerous publications including: Modern Dickens Project, Sleet Magazine, Splash of Red, and Prick of the Spindle. He is also a photographer, storyteller, and curator proudly associated with, and supporting, local arts and culture organizations in Des Moines, Iowa. His work explores universal languages, focusing on stories we share as a global community, finding beauty within the chaos of our world. To learn more about his work please browse his website at or contact him via email at