One of our favorite gallery spaces, Think Tank, was evicted earlier this year from their home in Downtown Los Angeles. After a city crackdown on unofficial spaces following the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland, Think Tank was forced to abandon their gallery, which you can read about in-depth in this LA Weekly feature. They’re down, but not out, and today announce their return to producing art shows, this time in an unlikely venue with artists who may not be able to attend the show, because they’re currently doing hard time in the nation’s vast penal system.
The show is a loose expansion of Phil America’s “illegal galleries” series that has famously taken place in abandoned NY subways and at the border wall between America and Mexico. Highlighting what the artist calls “some of the most culturally relevant Outsider Art in America,” many of the show’s convict-artists were found via job offerings for felons only, on resources like Craigslist. Each was paid above minimum wage to create works of art using skills they learned in the prison system. “These goods are imbibed with spirit and the sheer human resilience that lives in creativity,” Phil says after serving time in prisons across the US and worldwide. “Materials are rarely provided to inmates except in very specific situations, and so they must improvise, using whatever materials are available to them: refuse and food packaging, fabric and strings taken from blankets and uniforms, or disassembled items purchased from commissary.”
The location is also unusual– the MacArthur Park Swap Meet. A home for undocumented entrepreneurs who hustle daily, the venue will also host Phil America’s photo essay of vendors paired with their personal stories.
YOU ARE HERE. 3 – Legal Goods is open to the public from April 1st – 30th, 2017, with hours from Thursday – Sunday 11am – 7pm while the swap meet is open, at Booth D3 of 620 Alvarado St. Opening night is on Saturday, April 1st from 4-7pm and will provide prison-made refreshments. There is no fee for entry, but the gallery asks that guests bring at least $5 to spend at one of the local vendors’ shops, which are found on the project’s Instagram account in weekly posts.
Please enjoy the following preview of work to be shown and preparations for the opening, including the redone mural at the Swap Meet…