'Dictator Diaper Don': Phoenix billboard known for anti-Trump imagery debuts new artwork

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Artwork opposing Donald Trump was once again installed on a Phoenix billboard on Saturday ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Previously, the billboard had gone viral after Trump's 2016 presidential win for featuring controversial imagery of the then-president.

The 40-foot-wide billboard at Grand and 11th avenues showcases three diaper-clad babies with Trump's face, seated around a "Confederate flag cake" and a banner reading "Happy January 6th!" On one side of the cake, there is a bucket of "Hitler Fried Chicken," while on the other side, one baby can be seen lighting the Constitution on fire, and another is wearing a onesie with "Putin's Mini-Me" printed in bold red letters.

“This Wanna-Be-Dictator is clearly an unhinged baby,” Los Angeles artist Karen Fiorito wrote in a statement on Facebook about her artwork, called “Dictator Diaper Don Destroying Democracy.” “This is not the first time Donald Trump has been compared to an infant.”

The billboard, located in the Historic Grand Avenue arts district, has had a controversial past. In 2017, two months into Trump’s presidential term, the billboard went viral after showcasing another anti-Trump piece by Fiorito. The artwork, titled “Trumpocalypse,” depicted the then-president’s face in front of mushroom clouds and “swasti dollars” — a hybrid symbol of a dollar sign and a swastika.

The design was showcased until 2020. Since Trump left office, images other than the former president have been displayed on the billboard.

However, Beatrice Moore, the owner of the billboard and longtime leader of the Grand Avenue arts scene, knew she wanted to collaborate with Fiorito once again amid Trump’s bid for president in the 2024 race. With the piece, they aimed to use humorous, yet symbolic, imagery to encourage viewers to vote, Fiorito said.

“We knew that we would do something leading up to this election, the 2024 election, and Trump figures prominently because he’s the candidate that’s prominently running on the Republican side,” Moore said. “And plus, his behavior has gotten even crazier.”

Because the billboard is privately owned by her, Moore said she has been able to put up “politically charged” artwork that would not be allowed on many billboards owned by advertising companies.

“They don’t want, normally, anything that’s controversial at all,” Moore said. “So we’re in a position as owners of the billboard to project the other side, as far as political awareness, trying to get people out to vote.”

After “Trumpocalypse” was installed, a far-right group falsely claimed that Moore used taxpayer money from Phoenix to pay for the billboard.

The new billboard was originally scheduled to go up on Friday, but the installation was delayed to Saturday morning due to a scheduling conflict, according to Moore. Even though it hadn’t gone up yet, the artwork already had drawn controversy, as Fiorito received her first “hate email” regarding the upcoming billboard on Thursday.

"If it's going to be hateful and disrespectful and have no point to it, I've learned to just delete, block, delete, block, delete, block," Fiorito said.

Both she and Moore are seasoned in dealing with criticism from those angered by their billboards, dating back to Fiorito’s first billboard on Grand Avenue. The artwork, which featured President George W. Bush with the words “Dear America. We lied to you for your own good. Now trust us,” was installed in 2004. After it went up, Fiorito’s private information was publicized by critics of the piece.

Ahead of the installation of the new billboard, both Moore and Fiorito said they were prepared to deal with the fallout.

“Strangely enough, it attracts a lot of people to come down and look at the billboard,” Moore said. “Certainly, (we’re) going to have some negative people who are going to post something negative about the billboard, but like they say, no publicity is bad publicity.”

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Madeline Nguyen is a breaking news reporter for The Republic. Reach her at Madeline.Nguyen@gannett.com and 480-619-0285. Follow her on X @madelineynguyen.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Grand Avenue billboard known for anti-Trump art features new piece