Dog Gone

This Is What Happened When Wall Street’s ‘Fearless Girl’ Met ‘Pissing Pug’

The ‘Fearless Girl’ statue has been appropriated by feminists and Trump supporters—and now she has survived being pissed on by a papier-mâché pug created by artist Alex Gardega.

Alex Gardega

Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue has been humped by a strange man, appropriated by Trump supporters who placed a “Make America Great Again” hat atop her head and Pepe Le Frog posters at her feet, and—now—peed on by a papier-mâché dog.

Around 9:00 AM on Memorial Day, artist Alex Gardega erected his “Pissing Pug” beside Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” to protest the statue, which was installed the night before International Women’s Day outside the New York Stock Exchange, where she faces down the famous “Charging Bull” bronze sculpture.

Commissioned by the State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), a gargantuan asset management firm, Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” was meant to promote women’s leadership roles in corporate boardrooms—and became a feminist symbol overnight.

Speaking to The Daily Beast on Tuesday, Gardega derided the statue as “McFeminism,” an empty-calorie “happy meal” that represents “fake corporate feminism” and “fake corporate art” designed in a boardroom.

“‘Fearless Girl’ is there to promote an index fund,” said the 48-year-old artist, who has repeatedly defended himself and his his papier-mâché “Pissing Pug” as “pro-feminist” against passersby who insisted it was disrespectful of women—the final indignity in a series of indignities for “Fearless Girl.”

But Gardega insists the statue is a feminist and artistic fraud.

“It’s meant to look like some street artist stuck it there in the middle of the night, but it’s not that at all,” he said of “Fearless Girl,” adding that he created “Pissing Pug” in a display of solidarity with Arturo DiModica, the artist who erected his “Charging Bull” statue in the middle of the night after the 1987 stock-market crash. DiModica has since sued SSGA for copyright and trademark infringement by incorporating his statue into their “Fearless Girl” installation without his permission.

“I don’t think they should have appropriated his space for their own advertising project,” said Gardega, stressing that DiModica “put his own money and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that installation. It’s a piece of artistic integrity.”

“I’m a complete feminist. I’m just pissed off by this fake McDonald’s art,” said Gardega.

If SSGA can encroach on DiModica’s work with “Fearless Female,” Gardega argued, then he can encroach on theirs with his “Pissing Pug.” The dog has not stood up to scrutiny as well as “Fearless Girl.” Gardega removed his papier-maché masterpiece from Wall Street at noon on Monday, he said, “because people were kicking it.”

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has stood steadfastly by “Fearless Girl” in the face of requests from DiModica and his attorney to remove the statue. “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl,” he tweeted, underscoring the statue’s political significance in what has occasionally seemed like a misguided effort to boost his own flagging popularity. He has vowed that “Fearless Girl” will remain on view through February 2018.

Gardega said he spends most of his time in his studio in Locust Valley, New York (“I’m a loner”), but emerges to “make some trouble” from time to time. He was classically trained in the early 1990s at the School of Visual Arts in New York but “hated it” because it was “full of losers,” so he dropped out in the early when several gallerists “expressed interest in my work,” he said. The Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum is his “favorite living artist.”

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When he’s not maintaining his blog or holing up in his Locust Valley studio, Gardega is unabashedly promoting himself and his work, most recently in the Palm Beach Daily News after painting a series of murals in the resort town last year.

Asked about his ambitions to “paint the official White House portrait,” as he confided to the Palm Beach Daily News of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Gardega told The Daily Beast he’s “not a Trump guy” but would be honored to paint the president—and is confident he’s up for the task.

“I painted the Sistine Chapel on my own ceiling just to see what it looked like,” he said, referencing a project that landed him an interview with the New York Daily News in 2012. He’s also made headlines with his Bernie Madoff-inspired hot sauce, “Bernie in Hell.”

He’s also been asked to create a painting that will be featured in a scene in a “really big Hollywood movie called ‘Winners and Losers,’” he said, and has decided to incorporate “Pissing Pug” in the painting somehow, though he declined to disclose further details about the film or the painting.

It’s not the first time Gardega has worked with celebrities: Matt Dillon, Art Garfunkel, and Steve Buscemi own the artist’s “drawings and paintings,” he said.

Among Gardega’s other talents is a kind of prescience, as he described it—a tendency to predict the future through his art, like the New York City “Trading Cards” he made several years ago featuring Donald Trump and other faces and places associated with the city.

“I like promoting my work because I don’t have a day job, and I’m obsessed with the media,” said Gardega. “I think media is an art form.”

Indeed, he hopes to ride the wave of publicity around his “Pissing Pug” with a follow-up guerilla art project that wilsee dozens of papier-maché puppies placed around the city as early as Wednesday morning. “They’ll be painted gold this time, so they’ll look more expensive” said Gardega. “I love the idea of making something by hand that looks mass produced.”

He struggled to further articulate the puppies’ significance beyond railing against the “greed in the art world” and the “corrupted” contemporary art market.

“Half of my art is Renaissance-inspired, classical art and then the other half is stuff like this gold papier-maché dog,” said Gardega. “So I can’t say I haven’t been influenced by modernism, but I’m not big on someone sticking a wig in a lobster trap and attaching meaning to it.”

Gardega has decided to let “Fearless Girl” be for now, out of respect for the artist behind “Charging Bull.”

“I heard that Arturo doesn’t want any more commotion around his piece so I’m going to respect that and leave it alone,” he said, adding that his “Pissing Pug” is nursing a broken leg in his Upper West Side apartment but is “doing just fine. She’s going to have babies soon.”