IN CASE OF RIOT BREAK GLASS
After the death of one more UBS (unarmed Black suspect) in Baltimore, the mayor of the city, a Black woman, declared that the police would allow protests and even "destruction of private property". Did I hear her correctly? Did an elected official actually give the green light to loot and pillage? Knowing the media's track record for completely fucking with the truth, this may not be the case. But for the sake of argument let's say the mayor did say this. It's the dawn of a new era in reactionary history.
I lived in Baltimore in 1972-73, going to art school at MICA and working as a groom/hotwalker at the track. I saw Secretariet win the Preakness. But that's another story. As a naive country boy Baltimore was my first experience in urban living. I lived on the corner of St. Paul and Lafayette, in a big 3 bedroom apt. I shared with another art student and a cat just out of the Coast Guard. It may be gentrified by now, but back then it was the hood. We had cockroaches as big as your thumb and rats as big as cats. As a young, long haired whiteboy the only interaction I had with the cops was being asked for my draft card and pulled over for minor traffic offenses. This was Divine's, pre-WIRE city of washed marble steps and impending "urban renewal". Fell's Point was still filled with seedy bars and downtown was nothing but strip clubs and sailors on leave. Was it racist? I had no clue.
As this past year has shown us, to be a UBS in America is to risk arrest, serious bodily injury or even death at the hands of the police. From the bright kid in Oakland being shot and killed by a BART police officer depicted in the film FRUITVALE STATION to Fergusen and Michael Brown, to Staten Island, to South Carolina, to Balwamer, nowhere is exempt and no young Back man is safe. The mayor's words may not be so outlandish. As an artist I would take it one step further. How hard would it be to find a large expanse of derelict parking lot where one could erect an exact facsimile of a CVS or a McDonald's, complete with well stocked shelves or burgers? Hollywood set builders and art directors could even be solicited to create a main street all ready for destruction. Then, when the next case of a UBS being gunned down happens (and it will), officials can open up this "hood" for government sanctioned rioting. Take a cue from the wire- burn down Hamsterdam. We'll all feel better.
Turkey Season opens tomorrow so I may be a little busy. So if I forget to remind you, Leon Golub opens at Hauser and Wirth in NYC on May 11 in a show prophetically entitled RIOT. It will prove that all painting isn't vapid, snarky, worthless (no matter what it costs) crap. Hunt safe.