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The California Center for the Arts, Escondido announced Wednesday morning that they would not be removing, covering or editing a controversial art installation that depicts police officers as pigs dancing on a pile of donuts.
The piece by Los Angeles-based artist Slick (aka OG Slick) has caused some outcry over the past few days from members of the public and city officials. The installation is of three pigs standing in front of a black and white photograph of real police officers in riot gear, with “A.P.A.B” spray painted over it. A.P.A.B stands for “all police are bastards” or “all pigs are bastards.”
It’s titled “Three Slick Pigs — A.P.A.B Edition,” and is part of the center’s group exhibition, “Street Legacy: SoCal Style Masters,” which examines different aspects of street art culture, like graffiti, lowrider culture, skateboarding and more.
In a statement made on his Instagram, the artist explained that the piece is a “satirical look at excessive police force and abuse of power by some individuals who hide behind the badge.” He added that the installation is meant to open a dialogue within our communities.
Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara, Councilman Joe Garcia, City Manager Sean McGlynn, Police Chief Ed Varso and more have raised concerns about the art piece and hinted at looking at the center’s leadership.
“After this recent incident and, in my opinion, the tone deafness of it, I think we have a responsibility as a council to at least talk about this management relationship,” said McNamara at Monday’s special council meeting, referring to the management relationship between the city and the Center for the Arts.
Councilmember Joe Garcia agreed, indicating that the city’s role in the center’s management needs to be reevaluated.
The Center is owned and subsidized by the City of Escondido, but in a statement issued earlier this week, the Center reiterated that it is an “independent, not-for-profit foundation. As such, the City of Escondido does not review, approve, or in any way inform the artistic choices that CCAE makes. In addition, CCAE employees are employed by the foundation, not the City.”
On the other side of the argument, many said that removing or covering the installation would be a form of censorship. Some of the other artists in the exhibition even vowed to remove their own art from the show in protest if the center decided to remove Slick’s installation.
In a joint statement released to the Union-Tribune on Monday, the exhibition’s co-curators Bobby Ruiz and G. James Daichendt said that “ironically, the same power dynamic that the piece critiques are being played out in real life.”
Slick could not immediately be reached for comment, but posted a statement to his Instagram before the decision was reached, explaining the importance of the piece and thanking his fellow artists and the show’s curators for supporting him.