“I love history, I love poster art,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday. He also loves deploying a mountain analogy to describe New York’s fight against COVID-19 and his and the state’s efforts to flatten the curve of new infections. He declared that New York was “on the other side of the mountain” during one of his then-daily coronavirus press conferences in early May. Then, at the end of June, after COVID-19 infections began spiking throughout much of the rest of the country, Cuomo shockingly unveiled a huge model of an actual mountain during another press conference to physically illustrate the analogy again, even using his hand to demonstrate New York’s journey up and over the metaphorical pandemic mountain:
While Cuomo has not yet held a coronavirus press event using the Catskills, on Monday he unveiled, for the second time this year, an old-timey campaign poster devoted to himself depicting not only his pandemic mountain but illustrating numerous other elements related to both New York’s fight against the coronavirus and the quirky asides the governor liked to make across his more than 100 daily pressers during the outbreak.
Both posters have been based on Cuomo’s own sketches and painted in a style inspired by a 1900s campaign illustration for a Nebraska politician named William Jennings Bryan. The first poster, released in January, depicted Cuomo’s accomplishments as governor utilizing a ship as a metaphor for the state. (As Intelligencer’s Sarah Jones explained at the time, it was also missing quite a few things.)
The ship poster was made by Brooklyn painter Rusty Zimmerman, but the artist said on Monday that he hadn’t made the pandemic one. Nonetheless, some of the first poster’s elements have been reused, like the octopus (symbolizing William Jennings Bryan) and the “Sea of Division.”
The pandemic mountain poster displays “NEW YORK TOUGH” across the top and is apparently meant to depict the period of 111 days comprising the first surge of COVID-19 in New York (as well as the time period in which Cuomo gave daily coronavirus press conferences). Most of the poster is devoted to specific elements of the fight against COVID-19, sometimes with fanciful titles and in two instances clearly meant as criticism of President Trump.
A rope stretches across the mountain, symbolizing the state “pulling down the curve together,” with essential workers, New Yorkers, and others — including Cuomo’s daughters — doing the pulling:
And there are easter eggs related to Cuomoisms and characters from the governor’s coronavirus press conferences, including Cuomo’s hand sanitizer-on-the-table moment in March:
And this oddity:
Which apparently relates to an infamous Cuomo presser moment, shown here helpfully reenacted by comedienne Maria DeCotis:
(For more on the “Boyfriend Cliff,” be sure to read The Cut’s explainer here.)
But while the poster does include Cuomo’s three daughters, criticism of the president, and multiple quirky asides, it does not include references to the now more 32,000 New Yorkers who lost their lives to the virus, Cuomo’s failures to protect nursing-home residents in the state, his petty and counterproductive rivalry with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, or his initial and costly delay trusting public-health experts. Particularly in comparison with President Trump and many other governors, Cuomo undoubtedly deserves credit for much of his and the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean anyone other than Cuomo believes he deserves a wacky tribute poster for it.
On Monday night, the governor also announced that the poster was available for pre-order, for $14.50 plus shipping and handling:
Only Cuomo’s ego will profit from any sales, however, since the order form emphasizes that the poster is being sold at cost. Nonetheless, at least one New York elected official thinks the governor has gone overboard:
On the Sea of Perplexity, the Winds of Reason apparently catch little sail.
This post has been updated to include the news of the poster being for sale.