Tom Butt Header E-Forum
  E-Mail Forum – 2013  
  < RETURN  
  CC Times Eye on the East Bay - City Council as Art Critics
May 5, 2013

Art or politics?: Among Richmond city leaders, seemingly everything is political.
At a City Council meeting on April 23, a Richmond Art Center official gave a presentation unveiling a mural titled "Richmond Identities: Extraordinary Lives/Ordinary People" by artist Judy Baca.
The city-funded mural will grace the Richmond Senior Center's exterior wall on Macdonald Avenue.
The mural consists of several panels designed to tell Richmond's history.
But one panel, the one about "today and tomorrow," drew significant backlash.
The panel displays several prominent Richmond residents, including environmental activist and Urban Tilth founder Doria Robinson, whose face is the largest and most prominent one on the painting.
In the background is pictured a group of protesters holding a "Clean up Chevron" sign. The Chevron refinery is also pictured.
Councilman Corky Boozé took exception.
"Clean up Chevron? That's wrong," he said, adding that "this is all RPA (Richmond Progressive Alliance) people," referring to the local volunteer political group that bitterly opposes Boozé.
Boozé said the city should not fund a "political statement" and demanded that other Richmond residents, including longtime activist Lillie Mae Jones, be either included or featured more prominently.
Councilman Jim Rogers said he, too, thought the mural was "political" and asked City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller whether it was illegal for the city to fund such a project.
Goodmiller said city funding for political speech is illegal. However, he said the mural was not political speech, but rather a "slice of history."
Boozé wanted the panel scrapped, but he didn't have the votes. He and Councilman Nat Bates voted against installing the mural.
"Boy, am I upset," Boozé groused.
The mural should be completed this year.