California Art Center hosts controversial Leonard Peltier exhibition

RICHMOND, CA – The Richmond Art Center in Richmond, CA hosts Repeatedly, an exhibition centered on the monumental sculptural tribute of artist Rigo 23 to prisoner Leonard Peltier (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe).

Peltier has been in jail for 45 years for the murder of two FBI agents, who were shot and killed in Oglala on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. For many American Indians and others, Peltier, who had Age 77 September 12 is the symbol of an oppressive federal system that confines Aboriginal people to a dismal place in American society.

Rigo 23 is a well-known artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has exhibited his work internationally for more than three decades, often placing murals, paintings, sculptures and tiles in public places.

The main feature of the Time and Again exhibit is a sculpture in California redwood, moss, plywood and metal that is based on a small hand-painted self-portrait of Leonard Peltier created in prison. The 9’x6 ‘base of the statue reproduces the dimensions of a traditional prison cell. Each time the work is presented, the exhibition incorporates selections from the growing collection of photographs of supporters in solidarity at the feet of the statue.

The community celebrates Leonard Peltier's 77th birthday on Sunday September 12 at the Richmond Art Center.  (Photo / Facebook)The community celebrates Leonard Peltier’s 77th birthday on Sunday September 12 at the Richmond Art Center. (Photo / Facebook)The sculpture became controversial when it was completed in 2016 and first shown at the Katzen Art Center at American University, Washington DC Amid pressure from the Association of FBI Agents and a bomb threat launched at the university the same day, the work was abruptly withdrawn. of the display. It took a year to return the sculpture to Rigo 23.

Since his return to the artist, he has been exhibited at the Main Museum in Los Angeles (2018), at SOMArts (2019) and more recently on the roof of the San Francisco Institute of Art overlooking Alcatraz Island (2020).

The statue’s feet, which are detachable, made their own trip, visiting important sites of Indigenous resistance across the United States including Standing Rock, Alcatraz Island, Wounded Knee, Crow Dog’s Paradise and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Supporters were asked to stand in solidarity – and to be photographed. In the summer of 2021, the Richmond Art Center also welcomed members of the community to do so.

The current exhibit includes materials such as original sketches of the banner “This is 1999, why is Leonard Peltier still in prison?” »Mounted outside the Berkeley Art Museum; photographs from the Tate Wikikuwa Museum installed at the deYoung Museum in the same year; brochure and zine from the Tate Wikikuwa Museum at the Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University, where Leonard Peltier’s sculpture was created in 2011; and historical photographs of the late Michelle Vignes documenting significant events in the history of the American Indian Movement.

Arthur Jacobs contributed to this article from Emeryville, California.

Exhibition: September 9 – November 18, 2021
Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804
Gallery opening hours: Thursday 10 am-2pm, Sat 10 am-2pm, or by appt 510-620-6772

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