[Note: The previous headline in this story said that the event raised cash for Occupy L.A. It actually raised cash for activist Van Jones' nonprofit organization Rebuild the Dream]
It rained just a little bit last Saturday afternoon, but that didn't stop several hundred people from showing up at the ACE Museum on Fourth and La Brea for All in for the 99%, a mammoth art show, with readings, video, music, activism workshops and calls to action on behalf of the Occupy movement, set to re-emerge with the return of springtime and the onset of election season in earnest.
The show featured nearly 100 painters, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, neon artists, performance artists and installation artists involved — with names as big as Retna, Shepard Fairey, Skullphone, the Clayton Brothers and Jill Greenberg hanging right alongside the work of unknowns and newcomers.
The show was organized by the tireless Apple Via with the support and involvement of MoveOn.org, Slake magazine (which set up a library on site, and managed a series of readings), Funny or Die (which programmed a theater with film shorts) and a host of other progressive grassroots media outfits from KPFK to Rebuild the Dream.
The scene was set among sprawling, vivacious visual art curated by Via and Marsea Goldberg of New Image Art.
The democratic equality the event was celebrating could be seen by example on the walls themselves. Though not an auction, everything was for sale, with proceeds split between the artists and the cause. And while some work was out of the price range of most 99-percenters, as Goldberg says, “We are all one, even if we aren't all the 1 percent. And for this to work, we need the “good ones” to keep supporting small business and the arts.”
The art was an engaging mix of work made specially for the event, riffing on the themes of social and economic injustice, corruption and greed, and work that the artists may not even have made for political reasons, but that, when re-contextualized in a show like this, take on that powerful dimension.
Organizers were adamant that this event not be seen as a fundraiser, but rather an awareness raiser, an expansion of the vision to include new voices, welcome latecomers to the movement, and create a new push of momentum, urgency and excitement moving into the most heated months of the election cycle. They also were gratified to see a huge number of families with young children participating.
Val Kilmer was supposed to do a reading but, mysteriously, at the last minute, he failed to materialize. Honestly, he was hardly missed, as a lively slate of speakers and readers and musicians took the stage, culminating in a rousing keynote by activist, Obama adviser and supremely conscious citizen Mr. Van Jones (fresh off his appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher).
Throughout the day, actor Jason Alexander meandered through the show, acting as a tour guide, camera magnet and eloquent booster for the cause.