Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art was hosting a screening of Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep as part of their AIFF Best of Fests event. This event has been going on all month long and is screening the best films presented at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The screening, as well as the films presented all month, were put on by Richard Herskowitz, curator of media arts for Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and artist director for the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
The documentary detailed the life of political cartoonist Mr. Fish and the many struggles he encounters as a cartoonist getting published and finding work. Mr. Fish is known for his obscene and often times outlandish approach to cartooning that has since given him his style and respect throughout the art and publishing community. I found the documentary entertaining and captivating as it gave an accurate and detailed account of what some magazine and newspaper industries are like for artists and others who are struggling to get there work published consistently. Especially for someone like Mr. Fish who maintains the integrity of his work by often not making changes that would censor his work or take away from any of its meaning which includes vulgar language or obscenity like nudity. As a journalism major, who in the future would want to work with the many types of companies presented in this film, showed me the importance of patience and willingness to stand by your work when working in the industry. It was also very interesting to see the life of an artist in which few people may be interested in or even know but is still very much respected and revered in the art community. More importantly, the documentary touched on the divided climate that we find ourselves in during this time and the role of creative people and artists have as a voice and creators to the community against prejudice and other forms of discrimination.
However the most interesting part of the event was after the film was finished, Herskowitz called both the director Pablo Bryant and Mr. Fish via Skype to ask some questions about the film and life as a cartoonist. The audience and Herskowitz had nothing but praise for Pablo Bryant and Mr. Fish including a political cartooning professor that even wanted to screen and host a Skype call in his own future classes. Pablo Bryant and Mr. Fish were very skeptical and doubtful of the impact and audience that the documentary would attract and were surprised that the film would go on to win multiple awards and fan base in a region such as Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley. As an art fan, I will certainly be keeping up with Mr. Fish and his future work from watching this film and wish him the best in getting the credit he deserves from his unique style and taste.
Mr. Fish’s website: https://www.clowncrack.com/
Movie Website: https://www.mrfishmovie.com/
By Dom Moulton