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placeholder February 3, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Artwork from Death Row: Exhibit to open in Alameda

 



"Taking Off," by Bob R. Williams, will be on display at Redux Gallery in Alameda as part of "Inside Out: Artwork from San Quentin's Death Row," which opens Feb. 14.

courtesy photo

If you go

"Inside Out: Artwork from San Quentin's Death Row"

Opening Reception:
Feb. 14, 6-9 p.m.
Redux Studios & Gallery, 2315 Lincoln Ave., Alameda

Gallery hours:
Monday through Sunday,
11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Exhibit through April 6

 

"Inside Out: Artwork from San Quentin's Death Row," an exhibit featuring nearly 100 works by prisoners currently serving sentences on death row at San Quentin State Prison, will open Feb. 14 at Redux Studios and Gallery in Alameda.

The gallery, a social enterprise of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, features artwork and merchandise made from reclaimed materials. Studio space is available for artists, particularly those who work with salvaged materials. The gallery and retail store are open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

This exhibit is the product of a partnership between St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County and the St. John Bosco Prison Ministry at Holy Spirit Church in Fremont. Proceeds will go toward art materials and commissary funds for the artists and a portion will go to St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County.

The gallery show is a long-held dream of Kathy Weber, a parishioner at Holy Spirit who introduced the St. John Bosco Prison Ministry there eight years ago. Members of the ministry correspond with inmates; Weber herself answered an invitation to correspond with prisoners 10 years ago.

"It's a vision I've had for six or seven years," Weber said. "I've wanted to have an art show for the men."

On a smaller scale, Weber has offered for sale a few pieces at arts and crafts shows at the parish. The pieces at the Redux gallery show will number about 100.

Most of the pieces are small, with inmates using their limited resources to create art from what is available.

Chris Rummell, the gallery manager, said some of the pieces are created by using markers on prison-issued white handkerchiefs.

Many men have a TV and learn painting techniques through television programs, Weber said. Some surprise themselves to learn they can draw or paint.

"All of the work we have is very uplifting," Weber said. "Men use this time to lift themselves out of their surroundings."

Rummell said the paintings include many outdoor scenes and landscapes. Most are small, about 9 by 12 inches, although some are larger. Rummell has been pairing up artwork with frames that have been donated to St. Vincent de Paul.

"Quite a few men crochet," Weber said. Native Americans are allowed to do beadwork, she said.

Although Weber said she appreciates the art, she said, "I'm in it more to help the individual man. They give back to other men to receive quarterly packages."

The quarterly packages, Weber said, include not only additional art supplies but other small items, toiletries and food the prisoners might require. All are purchased through pre-approved third-party vendors, she said.

The art show is not intended to be a debate about the death penalty, but rather as an opportunity to highlight the humanity we share, and to offer beauty from an unexpected source.

Rummell said he sees "a lot of parallels with the clients we serve," who may have had experience with the criminal justice system or are marginalized.

Weber said she has found that "blessings go both ways" in prison ministry. "I learned truth through their trials and tribulations," she said, "and see God's power in their lives."

Many of the prisoners, she said, have not forgiven themselves. Pope Francis has said, she noted, that to find forgiveness is the right of every human being.

There are little steps along the way. Weber shared this note she received from one of the artists: "Thank you for helping me sell the cards. They're $3 each. I know it's not much but it helps me a lot."

 
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