DNC Donkey Artists Feel Shortchanged by Democrats, Rendell

The donkeys represented the 50 states, five territories, Washington, D.C. and Democrats overseas

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the artists who created 57 painted donkeys installed before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia are at odds over donkey dollars.

The donkeys represented the 50 states, five territories, Washington, D.C. and Democrats overseas. They were placed around the city before the convention and then collected afterward.

Caryn Kunkle, an advocate for the artists, said the agreement with the convention's host committee, which Rendell headed, called for auctioning off all the donkeys to help pay the artists, who have received $1,000 each so far, reported.

But Rendell said that by Wednesday, all but four donkeys had been claimed by convention delegations. He said the four remaining donkeys will be auctioned off on, the arts advocacy site that Kunkle heads, with 60 percent of the profits shared among the artists.

That didn't sit well with Kunkle.

"The 28 artists are furious that their artwork is essentially being hijacked and used for purposes which it was not intended for," Kunkle said in an email sent to the media Thursday. "The artist contract does not touch upon 'gifting.'"

The contract drawn up by the host committee said the donkeys would be the exclusive property of the committee until July 31, when each donkey "will be made available" to its state or territorial delegation after July 31.

Joan Reilly, chief operating officer of the Mural Arts Program that teamed up with Kunkle's group to produce the donkeys, seemed to support Rendell's view.

"The rules of engagement on this have been clear from the start," she said. "This is a project that was done with a lot of love, and commitment, and talent, and some level of compensation. But nobody was getting rich off this operation."

Reilly had heard the various delegations planned to display their donkeys at statehouses or other locations. But Lynette Shelley, the artist who created donkeys for the Missouri and Oklahoma delegations, said she's heard the donkeys were being stored until they can be used for future fundraisers, which she deemed "lame."

Rendell apologized for not being able to raise more money for the artists, but said he denied requests for some donkeys so there would be some to sell.

"I want ArtJawn to auction them off, and I want the artists to get that money," he said.

Scavify, the company that ran the DNC donkey program, is co-owned by Rendell's son, Jesse.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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