After learning of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Daniel Pantaleo, Smack Mellon postponed a planned exhibition in order to respond to the continued failure of the United States to protect its black citizens from police discrimination and violence. In order to channel our outrage into actions that can facilitate systemic change, Smack Mellon’s gallery space will be used to present events, performances and artworks that affirm that black lives matter, express frustration and anger with the institutional racism that enables law enforcement to kill black members of the community with impunity, and imagine creative solutions and visionary alternatives to a broken justice system.
Smack Mellon’s current Studio Artists Esteban del Valle, Molly Dilworth, Oasa DuVerney, Ira Eduardovna, Steffani Jemison, and Dread Scott worked with Smack Mellon staff as lead organizers of RESPOND.
Over 600 artists working at all levels and in all media submitted work for the large exhibition that serves as the focal point of RESPOND. More than 200 voices of artists living across the country and internationally from seven countries were selected and will be represented in sculpture, video, and two-dimensional work—including emerging artists, mid-career artists, and young people exhibiting side-by-side.
Esteban del Valle, a Smack Mellon studio artist and muralist with Groundswell, will work on a mural with local teens to be included in the exhibition. Other works include: Heather Hart’s participatory drawing Skinned, where she invites visitors to press a piece of gold leaf onto the prepared surface of the drawing in exchange for a wish, responding specifically to the context of police violence; Mel Chin’s 1993 prototype of Night Rap, a weapon/tool hybrid made from an actual enforcement officer’s nightstick; and Nina Berman’s photograph Funeral for Jose Luis Lebron, 1990. Nina’s description of this image sums things up: On January 31, 1990 at 5:30 pm, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York Police Officer Frank Albergo shot and killed 14-year-old Jose Luis Lebron, who was unarmed. An autopsy showed that Lebron was shot squarely in the back of the head. Albergo had been chasing Lebron for allegedly having robbed someone of $10.00 and claimed Lebron had been reaching for a gun. Eyewitnesses told a different tale. Four days earlier, also in Brooklyn, another police officer, shot and killed 17-year-old unarmed Louis Liranso. The two shootings touched off protest marches in Brooklyn. Both officers were cleared of any wrong doing. At Lebron’s funeral family member were overcome by grief and some tried to jump into the gravesite. The 2014 killings of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, currently in the news, top a long list of similar shootings by the NYPD that have been going on for decades. With each new killing, old cases fall deeper down the list, and are quickly forgotten except by family members and loved ones. Jose Luis Lebron is one of those cases.
Smack Mellon’s 5,000 square foot gallery is being provided to community organizers, activists, artists, writers and performers to organize, collaborate, speak, perform, teach, lead and act.
Events will continue to be planned and presented throughout the run of the exhibition. A calendar of events will be updated regularly on our website, http://www.smackmellon.org.
Atikur Abdul, Derrick Adams, Doba Afolabi, Eozen Agopian, All Hands on Deck, Ben Altman, Albert Areizaga, Andrea Arroyo, Carole Ashley, Ron Baron, Amanda Barragry, Kimberly Becoat, Anthea Behm, Allison Behrstock, Daniel Bejar, Guy Ben-Ari, Jesus Benavente, Nina Berman, Sanford Biggers, Tom Bogaert, Patricia Brace, Faith Briggs, Michael Paul Britto, Elliott Brown, Melissa Calderon, Luisa Caldwell, Crystal Z Campbell, David Cassidy, Colin Chase, Bivas Chaudhuri, Mel Chin, William Claps, Tim Clifford, Tracy Collins, William Cordova, Brandon Coley Cox, Molly Crabapple, Carla Cubit, Damien Davis, André LeRoy Davis, Sophia Dawson, Sharon De La Cruz, Rosetta DeBerardinis, Joseph DeLappe, Esteban del Valle, Molly Dilworth, Elizabeth Dorbad, Luba Drozd, Oasa DuVerney, Alexander Dwinell, Louise Eastman, Melissa Eder, Savior Elmundo, Nicky Enright, Liz Ensz, Stevenson Estimé, Sarah Farahat, Danielle Faulkner, Nona Faustine, Felipe Galindo, Rico Gatson, Daniel Giles, Jessica Goehring, Kyle Goen, Tami Gold, Shane Gooding, Kearra Gopee, Risha Gorig, Morgan Green, Emily Greenberg, Sanae Guerin, Ronald Hall, Ryan Hanson, Carla Jay Harris, Christopher Harrison, Heather Hart, Sharon Hayes, Mary Henderson, Rohan Henry, YK Hong, Germaine “Coco” Howard, HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?, Akiko Ichikawa, Tomashi Jackson, Shani Jamila, Steffani Jemison, Olalekan Jeyifous, Ann Johnson, Leon Johnson, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Olivia Johnston, Ayesha Jordan, David Joseph Jr, Dana Kane, Gautam Kansara, Kylene Kasch, Jerry Kearns, Coby Kennedy, Leslie Kerby, Basil Kincaid, Noelle King, Nsenga Knight, Mensa Kondo, Sandra Koponen, Anthony Lee, JC Lenochan, Jeremy Levine, Lmnopi, Dave Loewenstein, Vidho Lorville, Miguel Luciano, Wolf Luman, Kara Lynch, Jason Maas, Nina Macintosh, Maya Mackrandilal, Rhasaan Manning, Christina Massey, Rose Materdomini, McCallum and Tarry, Bud McNichol, Myra Miller, Al Miller, Amaris Modesto, Mario Moore, Ti-Rock Moore, Nyeema Morgan, Margaret Murphy, NCA 2nd Period Dance Class, NYC Solidarity with Palestine, Doris Neidl, NYC Solidarity with Palestine, Christopher Oates, Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh, Shaw Osha, Zakiya Owens, Mario Padilla, Kwan Taeck Park, Jason Patterson, Jessica Ann Peavy, Joshua Peters, Andrew Phan, Mary Pinto, Terrance Pitts, Jenny Polak, Carol Quint, Sarah Quinter, Issa Randall, Kameelah Rasheed, Nadine Renazile, Ayla Rexroth, Roberto Rischmaui, Shellyne Rodriguez, Benjamin Rojas, Margaret Roleke, Bayete Ross Smith, Russ Rowland, Jaffia Royes, Jude Rubenstein, Cynthia Ruse, Ashleigh Sampson, Sarah Sandman, Romulo Sans, Mariel Santana, SOL’SAX, Cesali Scarola, Dread Scott, Alex Seel, Jean Seestadt, Jessica Segall, Beldan Sezen, Rudy Shepherd, Greg Sholette, Kim Sillen, Jeffrey Sims, Monifa Skerritt-Perry, Sable Smith, Mariangeles Soto-Diaz, Fedele Spadafora, Savannah Spirit, Kurt Steger, Preach Sun, Dan Tague, Megan Tatem, Mirland Terlonge, Hank Willis Thomas, Ebony Thompson, Melissa Vandenberg, Kelly Vetter, Dareece Walker, Jordan Weber, Leila Weefur, Daryl Wells, Nafis White, Michelle Williams, Divine Williams, JB Wilson, Spencer Wolff, Jave Yoshimoto, Or Zubalsky + Huong Ngô, Sarah Zucker