California Today: A Gallery Flees and Neighborhood Activists Cheer

Mike McPhate, New York Times, March 15, 2017

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The neighborhood east of downtown LA known as Boyle Heights has been the first stop for several waves of immigration. Since the 1940s, it has transformed into a largely Mexican-American enclave and the center of Chicano culture and activism in the city.

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Many in Boyle Heights have expressed concern about gentrification, particularly after several art galleries moved into an industrial stretch. The battle between the galleries and activists reached a peak last fall when someone spray-painted a vulgar statement condemning “white art” on the door of one gallery and a hate-crime investigation was opened.

Fuck White Art

Available from the immigrants rights group “Serve the People Los Angeles” in Boyle Heights.

Almost from the moment it opened its doors last year Pssst, a nonprofit gallery, and its creators, have been the focus of protests and criticism on social media.

Last month, they announced they could no longer tolerate it. They were closing up shop.

“This persistent targeting, which was often highly personal in nature, was made all the more intolerable because the artists we engaged are queer, women, and/or people of color,” they said on their website.

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Defend Boyle Heights, one of the activist groups that has called for a boycott of the galleries, said that it considered the closing a victory and that it hoped other galleries would soon follow suit.

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