Don’t Like the Art? Dial 911! (Valerie on abLA)

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Valerie’s May 5th post on art.blogging.la regarding the Transport Gallery’s one-night show Mark of the Beast getting shut down garnered a lot of interest, particularly from the blogosphere. Since then, people have been wondering what exactly happened and what will be happening. Today on abLA Valerie followed up with Transport to bring you the latest detailed information. Remember, you heard it here first.

Valerie says: I spoke with the owner of Transport Gallery, Mike Russek, earlier today about the April 23rd incident at their Mark of the Beast event that was shut down by the LAPD. As it turns out, about a week beforehand, the gallery received an anonymous email from someone who didnít approve of the upcoming event and accused them of being communists and told them they should move to another country if they donít like how things work in the good olí USA. Donít you just love that line? Anyway, at the time he didnít think much of it (and maybe theyíre not connected at all), but in light of the events that followed, the email has added significance. Some say that four police cars pulled up at 10:40 on the night of the 23rd, others say there were six cars, but one thing is certain: The officer told Mike he had no choice but to shut the place down due to a call they had received from an unnamed individual complaining that the art being shown that evening was offensive and aggressive in nature. Apparently, calling in such a complaint is every citizenís right, but it is the LAPDís decision how to respond to it, which makes Mike wonder if the complaint was from someone with clout, someone important. ìThat kind of response makes me think itís someone with some pull,î he says. Mike tried to reason with the officer, but was quickly told that he was also in violation of a 10 p.m. curfew, something that Iím sure is a top priority over there on Factory Place (You wouldnít want to offend the delicate sensibilities of the folks hanging around the Greyhound bus station at that hour). Intimidated by the uniforms and the fact that there were men with guns in his gallery, Mike ran around and shut everything down, pulled all the plugs and told everyone to go home, something he regretted the next day.

After our initial conversation, Mike called me back later this afternoon to give me an update. It just keeps getting better! Brandy Flower, who curated the show, got word of the official police report from someone investigating the story at the LA Times. The report states that the event was shut down due to the ì200 protestersî out in front of the gallery. This official tidbit is not only pure fiction, but also directly contradicts what was said the night of the 23rd, when their reasoning was based on the content of the show. ìThis is blatant bullshit,î says Mike and now feels like theyíve given him free reign to pursue legal recourse if he can find the funds. He met with lawyers initially, but then had to drop them due to a lack of cash, but in the meantime several people interested in contributing to a legal fund have contacted him. ìI donít want this gallery to have a bad rap. One of the things I told the officer that night was that he has no idea how hard we try to just get people to come down here to our openings and then the cops show up and send them all away? Itís not right. Really, I just want an apology, I want the LAPD to admit that they messed up.î

The whole thing is fishy. If Mike sets up a PayPal account for legal funds, Iíll be sure to link it up.