Cultural Figures Call for Boycott of LA’s Pit Gallery over Controversial Exhibition

The founders of the Pit, an artist-run gallery based in Glendale, California, are facing backlash over an exhibition they organized for the Brand Library Art Center. An open letter signed by artists, filmmakers, writers, and other cultural workers criticizes the show’s lack of diversity, specifically its failure to include artists of Armenian descent.

Originally titled “Vision Valley: The Glendale Biennial,” the exhibition was billed as “a nod to Glendale’s long-standing artist community” and as a tribute to the multitude of artistic visions at work in the region. 

The signatories of the open letter—who identify as the immigrant and Armenian diasporic communities of Glendale and their allies—accuse gallerists Adam D. Miller and Devon Oder of “whitewalling” by excluding Glendale’s Armenian, Filipinx, Korean, and Latinx population in order to promote a majority-white roster.

“We are writing to remind you that your exhibition . . . is hosted at a publicly funded municipal venue in Glendale, the Brand Art Center,” the letter reads. “You describe the exhibition as ‘a celebration of artists working in a specific community.’ We are writing to remind you that the show is staged in a 40 percent Armenian neighborhood, the largest diasporic population of Armenians in the US. Among its roster of 32 predominately white artists, zero are Armenian. While your exhibition includes no Armenian artists, it does include all three directors of the Pit, as well as its gallery associate.” 

In response to the public outcry, Miller and Oder changed the title of the exhibition, which is on view until June 22, and issued a statement on their website, claiming that the name “The Glendale Biennial” reflected neither the makeup of the city’s creative community nor the curators’ actual intentions for the show, as they had never planned to make it an ongoing biennial.

“We have divided and angered many people,” the Pit said. “We take the concerns expressed by our community seriously and we apologize to all those we have offended. The Pit has always tried to be inclusive and open, we see here where we have made a mistake. We will do better in the future.”