NEW YORK CITY — A coronavirus mountain’s slope pulled down by hard-working New Yorkers. Donald Trump sitting on the Moon declaring “It’s just the flu.” A nose being swabbed. An octopus and a boyfriend dangling off a cliff.
Governor and secret artist Andrew Cuomo’s unveiled a political poster Monday that depicts all those scenes. Many are likely familiar to New Yorkers who lived through the “111 Days of Hell” the artwork labels the coronavirus pandemic, although some unabashed in-jokes may not be so recognizable.
He expressed an admiration for turn-of-the-century political art that imparts messages through visuals alone. It seemed, with the coronavirus curve dipping ever lower, like a good time to mark an “historic moment,” he said.
“I love history,” he said. “I love poster art.”
Cuomo previously commissioned a poster in that style to express his vision of New York as a “progressive capital.” That artwork was designed through Cuomo’s scribbles and stick figures and completed by Crown Heights artist Rusty Zimmerman.
The governor’s office didn’t respond to a question about the coronavirus poster’s artistic genesis, but Cuomo in a news conference called creative outlets a “relief valve” during the pandemic’s dark days.
Cuomo, with apparent pride, took viewers on a tour through the poster’s various symbols: an arrow showing projections for the coronavirus’ path through the state, “little visuals” showing COVID-19’s arrival on a cruise ship and airplanes, the governor’s daily briefings and more.
“We almost get to the top of the mountain — ‘Economy Falls.’ Get it? Economy Falls like Niagara Falls but then the economy drops, the economy falls,” he said.
The mountain itself recalls Cuomo’s sculpted peak prop he recently commissioned to literally depict show the coronavirus’ curve.
That visual metaphor may be obvious, but other touches in the poster were less so.
Cuomo, for instance, is depicted driving a car. He explained that it shows “one of the few benefits” during the pandemic — that he can drive himself.
An octopus is drawn next to a cruise ship. That’s a reference to a famous poster from William Jennings Bryan’s presidential campaign in 1900, Cuomo explained.
Another part of the poster depicts “Boyfriend Cliff,” complete with a boyfriend hanging off of it — an apparent reference to one of his daughter’s boyfriends who was a frequent target of Cuomo’s jokes during coronavirus briefings.
The journey up and down the mountain ends with a “Caution Ahead” sign near the still-churning “Sea of Division.”
The poster drew mixed reviews online.
We’re no longer issuing press releases on behalf of clients, just Cuomo posters from now on. Seems to be the thing to do.
— Andrew Rush (@TheAndrewRush) July 13, 2020