At first glance, the tour bus looks like the real thing: It's huge, it's painted the right color blue, and covering one side, in all caps and that signature white font, it's painted with "TRUMP."
But look again. A large period has been painted after the "T," so the bus actually reads not "TRUMP" but "T.RUMP." Instead of bearing the slogan #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, the bus says #MakeFruitPunchGreatAgain. On the front of the bus are painted buttons that say "Hasta La Vista Donny" and "The Scrotal Majority."
The truth is, this thing was once Trump's campaign bus. Now it's an anti-Trump art piece. And this week, it's parked in Wynwood, on NW 29th Street near Sixth Avenue for the Conception Contemporary Art Fair.
"The reaction has been great," says David Gleeson, the artist manager partially behind the reincarnation. "People seem to like it."
The bus, which the Donald and his campaign used to rack up an estimated 1 million miles driving around Iowa, was put up for sale some weeks ago; t.Rutt, an artist collective, decided to buy it and repurpose the huge blue bus.
The idea, Gleeson says, was to undercut Trump's campaign by mocking its absurdity. "Why is he even running? It seems to be a big ego trip," he says.
So t.Rutt repainted the bus, adding the artist's name on one side and another slogan, #womentrumptrump. The fruit punch line is a reference to the candidate's assault on women and the Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly, whom Trump notoriously said "had blood coming out of her."
Inside the bus are also huge white TRUMP banners, which will be draped over the bus' sides: Exhibit viewers are encouraged to splash fruit punch on them — staining them red, and further refuting the Donald's anti-woman messaging. The conceptual piece also features models dressed in Miss Universe costumes, a demonstration of just how convoluted Trump's messaging toward women seems to be.
The artist David Gleeson inside the former Trump campaign bus.
Photo by Trevor Bach
The "Hasta La Vista Donny" slogan is intentionally multilingual to refute Trump's rampant xenophobia. The whole idea of "taking back the bus," Gleeson says, is also about returning a central mode of transport to the people who typically use them — working-class folks, not billionaire politicians. Now the inside of the bus is sparse, with a few loose T-shirts and piles of buttons hanging around.
"It sure isn't very Trumpian," Gleeson says.
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Gleeson drove the bus from Iowa — a long haul for a vehicle that doesn't go faster than 60 mph — trailed by artist Mary Mihelic, another collaborator. About one in five truckers, he says, gave him a supportive honk, not noticing the bus wasn't the real Trump bus. One guy in Indiana was concerned that the Donald would be overly upset and could threaten a lawsuit, but otherwise the attention the bus has attracted has been overwhelmingly positive, with women especially supportive.
They also love it when Gleeson stands atop the bus at sunset and uses a golf club to smack a Trump-branded golf ball into the distance.
He's driving Trump away, of course, in more ways than one. Far, far away.