Santa Monica Art Bank Acquires Piece by Artist Wrongfully Incarcerated for 42 Years

Gary Tyler Sat on Death Row at Louisiana’s Angola State Penitentiary

The City of Santa Monica’s Art Bank has procured a piece by Gary Tyler, a man once wrongfully imprisoned for four decades and recipient of this year’s Frieze Los Angeles Impact Prize. 

Tyler, an LA resident, gained acclaim for his work, “In Memoriam of an Ashanti Warrior,” chosen by a jury including Christine Messineo (Director of Americas, Frieze), Amanda Sroka (Senior Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), and Laurie Yehia (Vice Chair, City of Santa Monica Arts Commission). 

“I am thrilled that we will be adding Gary Tyler’s important artwork to the City’s Art Bank.” The jurors were captivated by the work’s strength, clarity of vision, and its narrative rooted in Tyler’s personal transformation story.” said Yehia in a statement. “The piece, characterized by colorful and graphic yet gracefully quilted imagery, conveys empowerment and hope within the context of incarceration.”

Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled his sentence unconstitutional, Tyler sat on death row at Louisiana’s Angola State Penitentiary and spent over 40 years in prison. During his time incarcerated, he mastered quilting while volunteering for the prison’s hospice program, according to Hollywood Reporter. 

As the 2024 Frieze Los Angeles Impact Prize winner, Tyler received a $25,000 prize in partnership with The Center for Art and Advocacy and Endeavor Impact.

The Santa Monica Art Bank, established in 1984 through the City’s Percent for Art Program, aims to bring art into public spaces. The collection includes over 200 works by notable artists like Laura Aguilar, Charles Gaines, and Kerry James Marshall.

in Hard, News
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