The Smoking Prophet (1997),
oil on canvas
IN HER SCATHINGLY dark and satirical broadsides against forest clear-cutters, recreational butchery (sometimes called "hunting") and the camouflaged gun-toters of her district, Newport, Oregon's Sandy Roumagoux seems to summon an intensity reminiscent of German Expressionists such as George Grosz and Otto Dix in their Distant Early Warnings of the Nazi menace. Her fight is against some people's presumed dominion over everything, and the moral dichotomy between "Nature" and a "human nature" which cloaks itself in religiosity, male rites of passage and a bizarrely anachronistic frontier mentality.
Roumagoux's directly-brushed pictures convey the immediacy of her righteous anger, which can only be defused through the farcical confusion of flying dogs, icons supplanting icons in a theological Punch and Judy show, and sombre American Ayatollahs draped in cross-motifed gowns.
Ironically, the efficacy of political and religious satire - Goya to Daumier to Grosz to Soriano - is always appreciated much more deeply in retrospect: when the "clear and present danger" has become a matter of history.
This artist, for one, can't and won't wait. Roumagoux reaches far beyond the now-commonplace depictions of forest desolation; if Mad Mothers had an environmental wing, she would be the drum major - not the majorette.
© Ted Lindberg