Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why would Canadian Rosemont Copper use Nazi imagery in its PR campaign for a huge Arizona mine?

"Rosemont Copper Girl" (2011) by Lawrence Gipe, oil on panel 60 x 48 cm

“I think my whole ethos or M.O. (modus operandi) focuses on aesthetics and the beauty batted around by artists about history and politics; I try to bring those things together; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” –Lawrence Gipe

Nazi poster (about 1936) as shown in "The Dark Valley" by Piers Brendon
Why would Canadian mining giant Agusta Resource Corp. (Rosemont Copper) adopt a Nazi-era propaganda image on its brochure to 20,000 Tucson area residents to gain support for a controversial and eco-sensitive, $900 million open pit copper/molybdenum mine?

Good question, said Lawrence Gipe, University of Arizona (U of A) assistant professor in 2D Studies, an internationally known contemporary artist.

“What interests me is the visual rhetoric that ideological governments can sponsor and even demand from visual artists,” Gipe said in a phone interview. He also operates a blog, "The Journal of Nostalgia:Visual Culture, History and Science."

The Nazi-era Image appears on doorstep

A curious image appeared at his front door one day, an approved image and an oddly familiar one in a color brochure obviously authored by Rosemont.

Rosemont´s color brochure only identified a post office box as sender.

It prominently displayed an Aryan-looking girl with golden hair in pig tails holding a blue solar panel in her hands, the mountain range in the background.

The PR piece praised the mine project as a cost-effective and job producing with little or no harm to the environment.

Copper Study 1 (Double Mine)
"Study No. 1 from COPPER, AZ" 2011by Lawrence Gipe, mixed media on paper (19" x 24")
It is the same image currently appearing on Rosemont Copper´s website´s home page.

Gipe (b.1962) had seen the image of the pig-tailed Aryan girl before, only in black and white, published in about 1936 by Nazi artists, one of thousands of archived images he collects as part of his passion for history.

The Rosemont brochure and image of the Aryan girl arrived shortly before Gipe´s solo show, “Approved Images,” at the Tucson Museum of Art on the U of A campus (11 Feb. – 5 June).

No one took credit for the image, Gipe said.

Copper Study 2
"Study No. 2 from COPPER,AZ" by Lawrence Gipe 2011, mixed media on paper, 19" x 50"

About the same time as Gipe´s show was about to end, I was reading a book, “The Dark Valley, A Panorama of the 1930´s” by Piers Brendon.

At page 542, Brendon shows a series of black and white Nazi-era propaganda images, one a very close sister to the girl portrayed in Rosemont´s brochure.

'Rosemont Copper Girl" sparks controversy

Impressed with how Rosemont employed this Nazi-era, Aryan image, Gipe decided to paint the pig-tailed girl for his show, only facing a different direction.

He hung the 60 x 48 cm oil on panel painting “Rosemont Copper Girl” after the show opened. The pain was barely dry.

The local press took note, since the copper giant´s PR campaign heated up, creating controversy, especially online complaints about Rosemont´s tactics.

Installation View "Approved Images":Lawrence Gipe, Tucson Museum of Art_4
Installation View, "Approved Images" at Tucson Museum of Art by Lawrence Gipe (2011)

Did Gipe get hassled by Rosemont Copper for making waves in the press with his image during a critical time in the company´s efforts to get the go-ahead for its mine?

“Their image of the pig-tailed girl is public domain,” said Gipe confidently.

Gipe, a former professional arts columnist and critic, became curious when he got a call from someone asking the price of the “Rosemont Copper Girl.”

“’Good,’ I thought. Maybe he can pay retail,” Gipe added.

Installation View, "Approved Images":Lawrence Gipe, Tucson Museum of Art_5
Installation View, "Approved Images" by Lawrence Gipe (2011) Tucson Museum of Art
First, he did some online investigation. tracking the name of the caller and potential buyer.

The caller turned out to be a former sportscaster in Tucson.

“He was a PR shill for Rosemont,” said Gipe. “He told docents I had stolen the image.”

Gipe, who sells his works retail at from $3,000 to $20,000 through galleries, said “Rosemont Copper Girl” is not for sale, part of his private collection.

Gipe added that Rosemont has a “…phony grassroots campaign with scores of letters to the editor favoring its project.”

I called community relations at Rosemont yesterday (12 Sept.).

Rosemont instructed me to e-mail outside PR person JanHoward of Strongpoint Marketing in Tucson.

I did, and asked Rosemont by e-mail to Howard: “Where did Rosemont come up with this image of the girl, and what is it supposed to mean?”

Howard responded the same day saying she forwarded Rosemont staff my inquiry. “I hope to have an answer for you,” Howard wrote.

By publication (about 14:30 Arizona time), neither Rosemont nor Howard answered these questions.

Gipe searches for history´s visual niches of cultural memory

While Gipe works as an academic, half of his income comes from creating, showing and selling his oil paintings, many 4 x 5-foot formats on panels.

"Panel No. 4 from The Krupp Project" (1990), oil on panel, 60" x 96"

The context of each Gipe painting as an official or approved propaganda image sometimes remains buried in specific historical events.

For example, at the artist´s New York show in December/January 1999, reviewer Joseph Helman noted pictures of sailboats anchored at a resort that Nazi leaders used to discuss the Final Solution (Holocaust); the image of a mother and child in traditional costumes promoted Aryan reproduction; a museum pictured was one Nazis purged of so-called “degenerate art.”

Gipe launched his first solo show in Los Angeles in 1986, the year he earned his MFA from Otis College of Art and Design.

Since then, he has launched more than 46 solo shows and participated in numerous group shows in the United States and Europe, principally Germany.

Gipe said he has always harbored strong interest in history, politics, ideologies, and how regimes use artists to create state approved propaganda.

“I seem to come by this process of archiving historical images from dictatorial regimes naturally,” he said. Gipe´s father was an historian and wrote books.

"Leeds after the War, 1946" (2008) by Lawrence Gipe, oil on canvas, 60" x 75", Dan Leach Collection, Tucson

“I was brought up in the milieu of history,” he said. “That´s where I get my muckraking streak.”

“I think my whole ethos or M.O. (modus operendi) focuses on aesthetics and the beauty batted around by artists about history and politics; I try to bring those things together; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Gipe said he´s always looking for images to “…tell the story and make a compelling gallery or museum show of it.”

Previously, Gipe concentrated on what he dubbed the “fascist festival” (1933 – 1939) in Germany, Italy and France. 

Then he turned to images from Soviet-era Socialist Realism.

Gipe created his works from his collection of 1,000´s of black and white images he has collected.

What´s next for Gipe?

"Penn Station, 1942" by Lawrence Gipe (2005) 72" x 48
He´s currently preparing paintings of Francisco Franco´s burial site outside Madrid, the Valley of the Fallen.

“The Valley of the Fallen is stunning and would make good art,” Gipe said.

He´s exploring the visual politics of this Fascist imagery built by thousands of Republican prisoners.

“I have Spain in my sights,” Gipe said.

The show of these works will open about 10 March in Miami at a six-artist collective gallery, Primary Projects Space in the design district.

Gipe described the Valley of the Fallen as this “…huge white elephant on the hill with the Spanish not knowing what to do with it.”

Other target topics for Gipe include an old "emi-concentration camp" for Cuban refugees in south Florida, now a battle ground for graffiti artists.

He also is fascinated by industrial zones in ruins.

How has the Aryan-looking “Rosemont Copper Girl” affected him?

“My work is changing right now, in the last year, and Rosemont Copper first alerted me to this,” he said.

“I am going into the present tense, contemporary issues that are boiling at the moment,” he added.

Gipe plans using video in his Miami show.

"USA, 1962" by Lawrence Gipe, (2007) oil on canvas, 72" x 54"

 “I shall try to merge the visual, ideological with the historical contexts, “I´m always trying to jam these things together,” the artist said.


Rosemont, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Augusta Resource Corp., (TSX/NYSE Amex: AZC), on 10 September filed suit in federal district court in Tucson demanding that Pima County decide permit issues in 45 days. Rosemont claims the county, which opposes the mining project, is deliberately delaying permit action.

Published statement about Augusta


Fact Sheet
Click Here
Augusta Resource Corporation, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Rosemont Copper, is focused on advancing the Rosemont Copper deposit near Tucson, Arizona. Rosemont hosts a 7.7 billion pound copper resource that will account for 10% of US copper output once in production in 2012. Annual production is expected to be 221 million lbs of copper, 4.7 million lbs of molybdenum, and 2.4 million ozs of silver over a 20-year mine life. Today, Augusta is advancing permitting and finalizing project financing anticipation of construction in 2011. Augusta trades on the TSX and NYSE AMEX under the symbol AZC. WORLD CLASS ASSET - Proven and probable mineral reserves at Rosemont total 546 million tons of sulfide ore grading 0.45% copper, 0.015% molybdenum and 0.12 ounces per ton silver in sulfide ore, and an additional 70 million tons of oxide ore grading 0.17% copper. Resources total 7.7 billion pounds of copper, 190 million pounds of molybdenum, and 80 million ounces of silver. Capital costs are estimated at $897 million, with low operating costs estimated at $0.62 per pound of copper, net of by-product credits.
ROBUST ECONOMICS - Augusta's January 2009 updated bankable feasibility study estimates an NPV of $1.2 billion (5% discount after tax) based on a long-term price of $1.85 per pound copper, with a 17.8% internal rate of return and five-year payback period.
STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED - Arizona is home to the nation's largest copper producers and offers stable mining laws and a clear regulatory regime. Rosemont is accessible via highway from east to west, and lies less than 15 kilometres from a major transmission line. Rail lines connecting to major ocean ports are also nearby.
STRONG MARKET DEMAND - The current bull market for copper is being driven by expected strong demand growth out of China, India, Brazil and Russia, and a struggling supply response. The growth in demand is a function of the improved economic outlook for these countries as their economies become more developed and industrialized, and is expected to grow at a rate of 4% reaching over 19 million tonnes annually in 2011."

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

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The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510; www.hotelqueenmary.hu; info@hotelqueenmary.hu.
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"Walking the Walk," near Canillas de Albaida, Andalusia Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2007)
Contact me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 951 067 703; from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.


  1. That isn't even "stretching" it is plain obsurd.

  2. Wow. Fantastic monster there. The urbanity monster striding forth, as it does in most cities of the world. Nice hand-drawn banner too. Something like this image, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-7Z9RQ8 , by French painter Fernand Léger, maybe effective painted large on a wall too, acknowledged as a copy of course. It can be seen at wahooart.com and a canvas print of it can be ordered from there.

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