Artist's Mobilize: With Liberty and Justice for Some . . . An Exhibition Honoring Immigrants

01/19/2017 10:16 am ET Updated Jan 20, 2017
Untitled by Tim Okamura
Image courtesy of Walter Maciel
Untitled by Tim Okamura

Since the election, social media has been flooded with angst about the new political reality of a Trump administration. In light of this new climate, many artists are grappling with the same question artists have answered through the ages. What is their duty? Literally, the definition of art history is the study of objects within their historical context. History is calling, and the question is how best to engage their art with the world in a meaningful way.

Image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery

Artist, Monica Lundy introduced this very conversation to her peers. Many artists, their families or friends were feeling a part of an increasingly disenfranchised community. A desire to lend their voices, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation was the sentiment that bound them together. Monica noticed there was a great deal of talk among artists about mobilizing, but no definite plans. In listening to her own calling she set out to give life to this vague notion of doing something to make a difference. Monica recalls,

My head began swimming with ideas, and while I wasn’t sure what the final vision would be I knew I wanted to do a project and rally as many artists as possible to participate. All my colleagues and peers felt the same urgency, and discussions began with fellow artists about what this collaborative project could potentially look like. After many conversations, I arrived at the idea that I wanted the project to celebrate and honor one of the communities under attack by this incoming administration. The notion that our country would threaten mass deportation of immigrants is absurd to me, and hypocritical. After all, this country is a nation of immigrants.

Monica found a kindred spirit in Los Angeles gallerist and friend, Walter Maciel. In his own words, I feel it is my obligation to use my public space and voice to bring attention to the issues that threaten our basic human rights. After the election wore off a bit, I realized I was having the same conversations with friends, family, colleagues and random visitors to my gallery, about our fears and concerns and what could be done to help make a difference. Monica approached me with her idea for the show and I immediately knew I wanted to collaborate.

Co-curators Monica Lundy and Walter Maciel with Chinese born American contemporary painter, Hung Liu.
image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Co-curators Monica Lundy and Walter Maciel with Chinese born American contemporary painter, Hung Liu.

Together, Monica and Walter co-curated, With Liberty and Justice for Some, an exhibition honoring individual immigrants and their important contributions to American society. The exhibition opened January 7th at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles. Mounting an exhibition of this scope is usually takes several months of work and planning. The invited artists from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York and beyond responded overwhelmingly with artwork and within six weeks, over 100 artists sent their work for installation. Each artist contributed an 8”x 8” portrait of an immigrant. This exhibition became a very personal issue for many, reflected in the portraits of family members and friends, each with a narrative of the hard working and generous spirits found in the immigrant community. Some artists chose to feature well known immigrants who have made some significant contribution to American culture.

These included civil rights activist, Stokely Carmichael, tennis player, Martina Navratilova, actor, Bela Lugosi, architect, I.M. Pei, artists, David Hockney, Nam June Paik, Hung Liu and Marcel Duchamp, musician, Eddie Van Halen, rapper, Wyclef Jean, former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, Industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, poet Kahlil Gibran , and father of National Park System, John Muir. Also, with a touch of irony, the portraits of mother of President-elect, Mary Anne McLeod Trump, and Great Grandfather of President-Elect, Frederick Trump (Trumpf) were included.

Opening Night, January 7th.
Image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Opening Night, January 7th.

The opening on January 7th, provided artists, subjects of the portraits and the public an opportunity to celebrate the “melting pot” that is America. Co-curator and gallery director, Maciel was amazed at the response and noted the synergy created by this very special exhibition.

I was completely overwhelmed with the attendance at the opening and estimated about 1,000 guests throughout the evening. I expected a big turnout with so many artists involved and it was so nice to meet many artists who were not familiar to me. Many artists came from out of town to be part of the celebration, which was heartfelt. I received many comments about how important the show is to our community.

This is only the beginning. Maciel and Lundy hope that this idea will also spread to other parts of the country. As Maciel states, I think it is important to work together as a community to voice our opinions and try to maintain the legal rights and the fairness we have fought so hard for. Hopefully, artists throughout the country will follow their own vision and continue the nearly sacred tradition among artists of reflecting those values which make for a better union. For the arts community this is no time to remain silent.

The exhibition continues through Saturday, March 4th. Proceeds from the sale of the portraits will be shared with the artist’s and the following charities: ACLU, The Trevor Project, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, LA LGBT Center, and SF LGBT Center.

For more information see: waltermacielgallery.com

Jorge Andres Rodrigues Valasquez from Columbia by artist, Tim Doud.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Jorge Andres Rodrigues Valasquez from Columbia by artist, Tim Doud.
John Muir from Scotland by artist, Chris Natrop. Known as a naturalist, author and environmental philosopher and considered t
Image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
John Muir from Scotland by artist, Chris Natrop. Known as a naturalist, author and environmental philosopher and considered the father of the National Park System.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey from Jamaica by artist, Rodney Ewing:  Founded the University Negro Improvement Association and African
Image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Marcus Mosiah Garvey from Jamaica by artist, Rodney Ewing: Founded the University Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. He also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.
Kim Whanki by artist, Dave Young Kim:   Kim Whanki was among the first generation of abstract painters in Korea. Kim combined
image courtesy of walter maciel
Kim Whanki by artist, Dave Young Kim: Kim Whanki was among the first generation of abstract painters in Korea. Kim combined Eastern insights and Western reasoning by employing both Korea's distinctive features and western modernity, by integrating abstract and figurative features. In 1963 he immigrated to New York City where he spent the remainder of his life.
Madeleine Albright from Czechslovakia by artist, Calida Rawles.  Madeleine Albright served as the first woman Secretary of St
image courtesy of walter maciel
Madeleine Albright from Czechslovakia by artist, Calida Rawles. Madeleine Albright served as the first woman Secretary of State during the Clinton administration.
Yo Yo Ma from France by artist,  Linda Sue Price. Chinese-American cellist who has recorded more than 90 albums and has recei
image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Yo Yo Ma from France by artist, Linda Sue Price. Chinese-American cellist who has recorded more than 90 albums and has received 17 grammys.
Grand Parents from Calabria, Italy by artist, Leonard Greco.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Grand Parents from Calabria, Italy by artist, Leonard Greco.
Tatsuki Kobayashi from Japan by artist, Kyle Abernethy.
Image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Tatsuki Kobayashi from Japan by artist, Kyle Abernethy.
Great Grandfather, Estaban Orta from Mexico by artist, Melanie Lacy Kusters.
image courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery
Great Grandfather, Estaban Orta from Mexico by artist, Melanie Lacy Kusters.
Kahlil Gibran from Lebanan by artist, Carrie Lederer.  Chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book<em> The
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Kahlil Gibran from Lebanan by artist, Carrie Lederer. Chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, Gibran’s romantic style is at the heart of the renaissance in modern Arabic literature, and he is still celebrated as a literary hero.
Frederick Trumpf from Germany by artist, Michael Hall.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Frederick Trumpf from Germany by artist, Michael Hall.
Hudson from Sierra Leone by artist and friend, Gary Brewer.
image courtesy of walter maciel
Hudson from Sierra Leone by artist and friend, Gary Brewer.
Hung Liu from China by artist, Gina Tuzzi.   She was born in Changchun China.  After spending years farming in rice and wheat
image courtesy of walter maciel
Hung Liu from China by artist, Gina Tuzzi. She was born in Changchun China. After spending years farming in rice and wheat fields during the cultural revolution, she went on to study figurative realism in Beijing, . She immigrated to the US in the early 1980's where she attended graduate school and went on to become contemporary painter and a professor at Mills College in Oakland, CA .
Maria by artist, Colin Doherty.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Maria by artist, Colin Doherty.
Mother Jones from Ireland by artist, Adrienne Heloise.Jones came from Ireland during the great famine and in 1871 she started
image courtesy of walter maciel
Mother Jones from Ireland by artist, Adrienne Heloise.Jones came from Ireland during the great famine and in 1871 she started to organize unions and protests to improve working conditions for miners, women and children.
Adel A. Kader from Egypt by artist, Soad Kader: Scientist in Postharvest Physiology.Over a 45 year career, he researched and
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Adel A. Kader from Egypt by artist, Soad Kader: Scientist in Postharvest Physiology.Over a 45 year career, he researched and taught people from all walks of life how to get their fresh fruits and vegetables from fields to consumers while preserving as much nutritional value and flavor quality as possible and minimizing food losses.
Simone from Morocco by artist, Mira Gerard
image courtesy of walter maciel
Simone from Morocco by artist, Mira Gerard
Lap Hua from Vietnam by artist and son Phillip Hua.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Lap Hua from Vietnam by artist and son Phillip Hua.
Isabella from Ireland by artist and father Damian O’brien.
image courtesy of walter maciel
Isabella from Ireland by artist and father Damian O’brien.
Wyclef Jean from Haiti by artist, David Hollier.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Wyclef Jean from Haiti by artist, David Hollier.
Bela Lugosi from Hungary by artist Monica Lundy.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Bela Lugosi from Hungary by artist Monica Lundy.
Mami, a Sufi Muslim by artist, Mel Prest
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Mami, a Sufi Muslim by artist, Mel Prest
Albert Einstein from Germany by artist, Mike Street.
Image courtesy of walter maciel
Albert Einstein from Germany by artist, Mike Street.
Mami from Puerto Rico by artist, Yvette Deas.
image courtesy of walter maciel gallery
Mami from Puerto Rico by artist, Yvette Deas.
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