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Artistic tribute to the Black Panthers on view in Chinatown

4/20/2017, midnight
The Gregorio Escalante Gallery (http://www.gregorioescalante.com/) in Chinatown Chung King Arts District recently experienced its largest turnout since its 2015 establishment, ...

The Gregorio Escalante Gallery (http://www.gregorioescalante.com/) in Chinatown Chung King Arts District recently experienced its largest turnout since its 2015 establishment, with the reception for “Iconic: Black Panther,” a presentation of artwork inspired by the Black Nationalist organization active in the mid-20th century.

Some 2000 people crowded the courtyard separating the Escalante Gallery and the Medina Gallery housing the overflow of this multi-city fine art exhibit produced by the Compton-based SEPIA Collective. The show featured about 50 artists, for its opening on April 8. The installation is co-curated by local artists Susu Attar and Rosalind McGary.

Los Angeles is the second leg for this traveling presentation, which started last October in Oakland. (the opening there brought out some 1000 patrons), with plans to travel to Chicago and New York City later this summer. The intention is to include primarily local artists in each city along with those represented in the traveling show.

The SEPIA Collective was conceived as a multi-cultural community organization using art to bring attention to socially relevant issues.

In the words of SEPIA Collective founder and co-curator McGary, “This show starts at the point of recognizing the iconic stature of the Black Panther Party as one of the most significant social justice movements in American History.”

April Rushing of the local marketing communications and talent agency, Rushing Media (http://rushingmedia.com) provided publicity for this event.

She attributes the ethnically diverse, stellar turnout to the power of social media (the exhibit Facebook page received 3000 “hits” alone), and the political implication of “… where the country is right now.”

The pieces assembled represent a variety of styles and various mediums by artists and creators from varied backgrounds and locales across the globe.

Among the artists represented are hip hop pioneer Fred Brathwaite (popularly known as “Fab 5 Freddy”), Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, and Shepard Fairey (founder of OBEY Clothing and designer of the Barack Obama “Hope” poster). A last minute addition to the collection is an original painting by boxing and cultural icon Muhammad Ali, which is on sale for $30,000. For those on a budget, commemorative posters for the event are available for $10.

Half of all earnings from artwork sales will go to the artists, with the remainder going to members of the original party, and their families.

As an adjunct to the installment, an afternoon of storytelling also took place at the gallery.

Individual members of the community chose to “bear witness,” by presenting their personal recollections of the Black Panther Party, and its impact on their lives and society in general. Following this, an open discussion between the presenters and the audience was held. Other events include a luncheon on May 5 between 2 and 5 p.m., and a closing reception on May 14 between 2 and 5 p.m.

Funding for the festivities was provided by Artdom (http://roadtoartdom.org), the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization dedicated to art outreach in underserved areas. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and other civic, community, and cultural leaders rendered their support as well.

The Gregorio Escalante Gallery and Medina Gallery is located at 978 Chung Kind Road, Los Angeles. Hours are 1 to 6 p.m. every day except Monday when the gallery is closed.

More information may be accessed at https://sepiacollective.com.