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LOS ANGELES, California.- The first phase of Donald Trump’s wall between Mexico and the United States is now standing -- at least symbolically. Last week, the two artists that make up the t.Rutt collective erected the cinder-block structure near Jacumba Hot Springs, California, a small town located 70 miles east of San Diego.
Just over 6 feet tall, located some 20 yards from the actual border in the middle of nowhere, it’s not likely to be able to stop anyone trying to enter the country, and that’s just the point. The work is a monument to the rhetoric that’s been spewed by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee during this election cycle.
"It's amazing how little people have thought about the impact [this would have] on the country,” artist David Gleeson told Univision News in Los Angeles. “If Trump builds the wall and deports 11 million people, parts of the agricultural sector will become vacant and the service sector will be dysfunctional.”
The wall is covered in crops and flowers, a U.S. flag with offensive Trump messages and a poster used by the presidential hopeful’s campaign in New Hampshire.
Because the work would not be complete unless Mexico pays the costs (according to the Trump theory), Gleeson and project partner Mary Mihelic sent a bill to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for a total of $14,635.42. The check must be paid within 30 days, they stated.
"We wanted the payment to be absurd," Mihelic said. The most expensive part of the whole project, according to the document, is the maintenance of the wall: $10,000.
Gleeson, 53, manages a number of art galleries in Philadelphia and earns his living in real estate, as does Mihelic, 51, who lives in New York.
This pair of anti-Trump friends has already traveled 12,000 miles across the United States in an old Trump campaign bus they bought on the internet. At first glance, it appears to be pro-Trump, but has been modified to attract attention and generate debate.
Instead of Trump, it reads T.Rump, and instead of "Make America Great Again," "Make Fruit Punch Great Again."
The nuances of the small border wall have confused some who don't understand the work's critical nature. The story of the wall was first published in The New York Times on July 8 and the official Fox News blog covered it a day later, although the latter said the work aimed to reflect the "positive impact" the wall would have on U.S. citizens by ending "illegal immigration."
"It's crazy," Gleeson said, clearly surprised though unable to hold back his laughter. "It's scary," added Mihelic.
Both are aware that their projects can be “misinterpreted.”
"They tell us we should make it clearer," said Gleeson, who insisted their intent is to attract Trump supporters so the artists can communicate the consequences of Trump's policies. "Art really matters in times of social unrest, especially when it comes to politics.”
Since beginning the bus project, the artists acknowledge they've had productive encounters with Trump supporters, who usually have a positive reaction, even after realizing the work is anti-Trump. Those with the most negative reactions are usually anti-Trump, they say.
"They're the angriest," Gleeson said. The artists have been insulted; people have thrown eggs and ketchup packets at them. The vehicle was vandalized with anti-Trump messages in Hermosa Beach, California.
The next stop is the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week, where Trump is slated to be named the party's official presidential candidate.
The artists, who hope to follow Trump around for the rest of his campaign, say they are nervous about what they may encounter at the convention. Ever cautious, they wear bulletproof vests and leave at the first sense of danger.
As for the wall, the artists want to ensure that it keeps standing, and they've encouraged other artists to contribute to expand on the work. The wall is located on David Landman's property; he's a Jacumba Hot Springs landowner and a Republican voter who authorized the installation and seems delighted about the attention the wall has attracted.