Mr. Peanut

Introduction: Playing with persona and identity, Vincent Trasov slipped into the peanut shell and effortlessly assumed the role of Mr. Peanut with elegance and aplomb. It seemed a sensible stance in an era preoccupied with the dematerialization of art. Trasov’s interest in film animation had led him to appropriate the easily recognizable and simple to draw Planters Peanuts anthropomorph Mr. Peanut. First came the flip book which was later translated to film. These early efforts were realized at the Intermedia studios, Vancouver, and before long people were calling Trasov Mr. Peanut.  The name stuck.  Simultaneously Trasov was ideating with Michael Morris a “modus operandi” for bypassing the existing gallery structure by working directly with others in a network. The concept became known as “Image Bank” (now the Morris/Trasov Archive) and was carried out largely by the postal system with a fake bureaucracy made up of rubber stamps, stationary, envelopes, postage stamps, annual reports and much compiling of address lists and directories.  Mr. Peanut did not take to the street immediately, but it wasn’t long before he started surprising the public by turning up in locations such as Queen Elizabeth Park and assuming the familiar pose beside a piece of sculpture by Henry Moore or by the war memorial at Victory Square.  These appearances besides being great photo ops were intended to create the atmosphere of an “art city."  Later, Trasov as Mr. Peanut would make appearances in Toronto, Victoria, Halifax, New York and Los Angeles. On the suggestion of fellow artist John Mitchell, Trasov was persuaded to don the costume as a symbol for the collective aspirations of the art community and run for mayor in the 1974 Vancouver civic election on the art platform: P for Performance, E for Elegance, A for Art, N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness and T for Talent. The author William S. Burroughs, a guest in Vancouver at the time, made the following endorsement of Trasov’s candidacy:

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on the art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insolvable problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate-Mr. Peanut.

The campaign was a 20 day performance with John Mitchell as campaign manager and spokesperson, and the involvement of the then recently formed artist centres and groups Pumps, Video In, Blonde Warehouse and Western front Society. At the final counting of ballots Trasov received 2,685 votes for 3.4% of the vote.

Art City

Mr. Peanut Mayoralty Campaign 1974

Drawings

Romance



Early Work

Mr. Peanut

Colour Research

word paintings

Recent Work