Antonio Villaraigosa | Art and Design | Gay Rights | Los Angeles | Michael Goff | Shepard Fairey

Manifest Equality: L.A. Art Show Showcases Fierce Allies, Art


Cropped animate mamnifestby 90 I stopped by the now former Big Lots on Vine the other night to check the progress of  Manifest Equality, an art show which is the culmination of an open contest focused on LGBT civil rights.  The organizers are Jennifer Gross, Apple Via and Yosi Sergant, who resigned as NEA director last fall, having served through Obama's campaign as somewhat of his "hipster publicist." All three are wired into the art and political scenes. Sergent brought Shepard Fairey and Obama together initially for the Hope poster, and this initiative grew out of the similarly structured Manifest Hope contest and show.



The pieces I saw -- by gay and straight artists, ran the gamut from kitsch to polemical, disturbing to banal, along with a few I can't get out of my head and will be back to have another look at once they're hung on the wall.




There's a private preview this evening for a small group of artists, collectors and media. It's open to the public with a schedule of events from tomorrow through the closing on March 7th. If you're in LA, it's worth a little effort to go by in the next few days. 


Saturday night, the space was simmering with activity. Organizers were moving pieces, strategizing traffic to the crowd pleasers, bars, and the bathrooms. Two guys were unselfconsciously focused on letter-spacing and leveling the two-foot high stencils near the ceiling that spelled "men", "equal", "endowed" and other words from the Constitution. Finding Roman Alonso, co-founder of Commune and "one of the hottest names in [design]" according a recent LA Times piece, with his sleeves rolled and paint roller in hand  doing his part to make the back wall look like a barn added to the "Hey, let's put on a show" feel. 

Amateur night, this is not. Picking 30 pieces from the hundreds submitted to show alongside works by established/invited artists fell to a masterfully constituted panel of judges including high-profile, straight and gay art world figures (Fairey, Lari Pittman, Ed Ruscha); Media reps; LA Times art critic Dave Pagel and Vogue's Senior West Coast Editor, Lisa Love; a senior curator from LACMA; the director of the Hammer; politicians on the inside (LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) and fighting to get in; and Rick Jacobs, founder of Courage Campaign which will get a significant percentage of proceeds — rising to 50% after costs are covered.



6a00d8341c730253ef01310f5623c9970c-800wi 6a00d8341c730253ef0120a8ef705d970b-800wi


Unwavering support like this has been a long time coming. It's nice to see MoveOn, which usually comes off as ambivalent on gay issues stepping up with Rock The Vote  to partner with national gay groups in support of the show. What? Straight allies who don't need to be taught or told how to be supportive? With initiative and passion of their own? Sounds like the way a "fierce advocate" might work. 

Some may not be ready for the 'age of Aqueerious' though. A friend told me he was trying to figure out the flier for Manifest Equality that someone handed him at the Farmers Market with his arm around a new guy. He looked up and a passer-by read his face and explained,

"It's a bunch of straight artists making gay-marriage art." 

And to some degree that is what it is...

...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Note: The first piece is Robbie Conal's.



Feed This post's comment feed


  1. 'former Big Lots'?! I leave L.A. and The Big Lots (nee Pic N Save) on Vine is no more?! Oh, the humanity!
    I'm sorry that this is all I have to say about this post...but I REALLY regret leaving CA!!


    Posted by: Bruce Wayne | Mar 3, 2010 2:26:08 AM

  2. This is going to be incredible. I actually heard about this while @ a store seeing and it turns out young artists from across the country, straight and gay...mainly straight actually, who believe in equality will be there. Seriously, I can't wait to attend and actually support peole who suport us!

    Posted by: Mark | Mar 3, 2010 4:12:00 AM

  3. Not to be a downer, but it's really hard to make political art that succeeds in being good art, and this stuff looks really bad.

    Posted by: Jim | Mar 3, 2010 8:48:05 AM

  4. I will be attending tonight and I know a lot of people have put a lot of work into this project. Unfortunately, the organizers, who say they were inspired to do this because of their opposition to Proposition 8, have banned Restore Equality 2010 and Love Honor Cherish from gathering signatures for the ballot initiative to repeal Prop 8 at or near the exhibit. Very disappointing. Don't help if you don't want to but bock the hard efforts of other people in your own community?

    Posted by: Lester | Mar 3, 2010 5:54:56 PM

  5. "Age of Aqueerious"? I've seen a lot of juvenile attempts to shoehorn the word "queer" into news copy, but this has got to be the most pathetic. Give it a break, already!

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Mar 3, 2010 6:17:11 PM

  6. People should BOYCOTT this event and the Rick Jacobs' "Courage" Campaign. They are banning lgbt people from collecting signatures to repeal Prop 8 at the event. Apparently, manifesting equality doesn't mean fighting for and winning it. STOP SUPPORTING GAY INC. STOP SUPPORTING GROUPS THAT WANT YOUR CASH BUT NOT YOUR IDEAS.

    Posted by: Norm D Plume | Mar 3, 2010 8:45:52 PM

  7. Norm D'Plume: Oh, lighten up.
    There's nothing stopping you from standing on the corner of DeLongpre and Vine collecting signatures as people walk in or out.

    Posted by: Rey | Mar 4, 2010 11:02:30 AM

  8. Norm,

    We tried that, but the organizers had asked us NOT to collect signatures at the sidewalk either. Thanks to some friends in the organizing staff, however, we worked things out and gathered signatures inside.

    Posted by: Lester | Mar 5, 2010 11:38:50 AM

Post a comment


« «Supreme Court Refuses to Block D.C. Marriage Equality« «