ICONIC: Black Panther at Gregorio Escalante

ICONIC: Black Panther. Gregorio Escalante Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Photo Courtesy of April Geg Birdman.

ICONIC: Black Panther

Presented by SEPIA Collective, Zack De La Rocha, Razor Step, in association with Road to Artdom

Gregorio Escalante Gallery, Los Angeles

By Amy Kaeser

Through May 14th


“50 Artists Interpret 50 Years of the Black Panther Party,” is the subscript for a show dedicated to the Black Panther Party (BPP) and their publication, Black Panther. As the largest show ever devoted to the BPP, ICONIC: Black Panther at Gregorio Escalante Gallery in Los Angeles’ Chinatown district, showcases artist’s whose work engages with the legacy of BPP, the Civil Rights Movement, social justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and gender discrimination, and minority visibility in the media. The organizers of ICONIC, the SEPIA Collective, a Los Angeles-based, non-profit group of multi-cultural artists, activists, and curators celebrates the history and significant, albeit controversial, Black Panthers.

Founded in 1966 in Oakland, CA by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the organization, initially called Black Panther Party for Self-Defiance is an African American revolutionary party founded to patrol neighborhoods and protect residents from police brutality. The significance in highlighting the BPP now cannot be understated—from Ferguson and the unjust killing of Michael Brown to the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots—the work in the show speaks loud and clear to the unequal treatment of African-Americans in this country and the visibility of police brutality in the age of social media.

Three separate spaces display the work of the fifty artists who contributed work for ICONIC. Well-established, mid-career artists (Shepard Fairey, Sundus Abdul Hadi, Keith Walsh, and Emory Douglas, who is an early member of BPP and created images for the Black Panther publication) as well as emerging artists (Ryan McCann, Tsilil Tsemet) create works that directly reference BPP or engage in a discourse on social justice. Fairey’s Bobby Seal (2004) a silkscreened, mixed media collage, is the image that greets visitors to the gallery as well as the homepage and sent postcard media. In his “signature style,” Fairey represents Seale in the red and black tones, the “OBEY” slogan prominently positioned at the center of the credo, “Peace, Obey, Freedom.” Keith Walsh’s Black Liberation and Socialism (2017), ink and flashe on paper, considers the relationships between activists and organizations with Huey P. Newton as the central figure. Tatiana El-Khouri’s Angela Davis (2017), mixed media on canvas, combines collaged images of Davis and BPP in headlines and news articles, “Free Angela” leaflets, and demonstration flyers with a portrait of Davis overlaid in tones of blues and greens. Regarding the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” cry calling attention to police brutality, Pilar Aguero-Esparza’s Ferguson 7: Sepia and Mahogany (2017), crayon, color pencil on paper, is a simple yet powerful image of resistance.

ICONIC: Black Panther is currently on view at Gregorio Escalante Gallery until May 14th, 2017, events throughout the duration of the show include a luncheon May 6th from 2-4 PM with food provided by Locol and Trap Kitchen. A closing reception will take place May 14th from 2-5 PM.


Gregorio Escalante Gallery

978 Chung King Rd.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

(323) 697-8727




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