Artists have rejected the company’s decision to pull up mass arrest billboards

Artists say a billboard company refused to display a series of 10 pieces of art in Texas to avoid discussions about mass incarceration in the conservative state. It is titled. 8 x 5 Houston Referring to the minimal square footage required of a prison cell in Texas, the project was scheduled to debut on 10 billboards in Houston on Nov. 11, where 15 people have died this year at the Harris County Jail in the city.

Art in These Times (ATLT), which exhibits public art in person and online, is spearheading the project with SaveArtSpace, another public art charity that displays work in spaces normally reserved for advertisements. The teams commissioned 10 artists for the project, many of them Houston-based and formerly incarcerated: Mel Chin, McKenna Gessner, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Monty Hill, Kyle Joy, Chandika Metivier, Jared Owens, Jenny Pollack, El Ribo and Phyllita Hicks.

SaveArtSpace Executive Director Travis Ricks said. Hyper allergy As he began to plan 8 x 5 Houston At the end of August. He was working with a national billboard advertising company called Clip Channel, which aired another version of the broadcast. 8 x 5 Series in Miami. During the negotiation process, Rix said Clear Channel needed the artworks to include a “paid for” line listing ATLT and SaveArtSpace as funders, which he said is common for displays that carry messages across political boundaries. Reviewed by email chain hyper allergy, The sales representative conveys a series of escalating demands, including whether the billboard includes sources of information referenced in the artwork.

Although Ricks repeatedly asked by email to accept a contract (he said he usually signs two to four weeks in advance), the sales agent never sent a closing document. Clear Channel then pushed the opening to November 11. Finally, on November 2, a week after the billboards were supposed to go on display, Ricks said he received a phone call informing him that the series would not be possible. It has been seen. When Ricks asked for a reason for the show’s cancellation, he got no real answer.

Clear channel not responding. Hyper allergyRequest for feedback.

The work of Phyllita Hicks in a series (The Art of This Time)

“In my mind, it’s Texas, it’s a conservative environment,” Ricks said. “The guy who runs that branch for those markets is conservative, and they don’t see the prison system as a problem.”

Rix explained that it’s not that unusual for a billboard company to refuse to display SaveArtSpace’s work, but typically a nonprofit can move an exhibit to a new site. This series was different.

“It’s a Houston-based and Houston-focused exhibit based on what’s going on in the Harris County Jail,” Ricks said. “These billboards are accepted in New York or Los Angeles or Michigan or somewhere.”

Ricks said he reached out to two companies in Houston with sign setups — the national corporation Outfront and the local company SignAd Outdoor — but both refused to show the work. Neither company responded to requests for comment, but an email reviewed Hyper allergy A representative for Outfront cited the reason for not airing the series because it wasn’t “right for the market”.

“Based on where we’ve declined over the last few years — it’s always been in conservative areas,” Rix said. Barbara Pollack, co-founder of ATLT, critic, curator and Hyper allergy A contributor noted that Texas was holding an election today, November 8th, and noted that there were political posters all over Houston.

Fraylita Hicks, a poet and visual artist commissioned to create an image 8 x 5 Houston, has created a work of self-portrait and two texts. One urges the viewer to consider the humanity of imprisoned people. Another includes a clause from the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibits “excessive warrants.” The photo shows them outside the apartment where they were arrested.

One of the trucks now showing the works (photo by Alex Barber)

said Hicks, who is originally from Texas and recently moved to Chicago. Hyper allergy He was held in a Texas jail not far from Houston after being tried and held for 45 days without bail.

“This is a continuation of censoring individuals who have direct experience — direct experience — in the criminal justice system in Texas,” Hicks said of the billboard companies’ refusal to show up. 8 x 5 Houston. The artist called the prison conditions in the state “extreme”.

“We decided we were going to do it in one version or another,” Pollack said.

On Saturday, the group held a panel discussion at Houston’s Museum of African American Culture. Despite the obstacles, a local company – Premier Mobile – agreed to demonstrate 8 x 5 Houston Artwork on the sides of two trucks. The Rothko Chapel, the Museum of African American Culture, the Arts League Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Arts Houston, and Project Rowhouse allowed the vehicles to park outside their facilities, and the trucks circled the Harris County Jail that evening and before the event. ATLT and SaveArtSpace will continue to work with Local Premiere for the next few weeks and are considering additional options for display, including banners and wheat paste posters.

“We’re people first, we’re not our charges first,” Hicks said. “As artists, it’s our job to remember our humanity.”

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