Members of Defend Boyle Heights and Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement protesting the Laura Owens exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Ameican Art, in New York, on Wednesday, November 8. Photo: Benjamin Sutton

Laura Owens Exhibition at Whitney Museum Met with Protests

During the VIP opening of the midcareer survey of Laura Owens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York on Wednesday, November 8, protesters gathered outside the institution and in its galleries, Benjamin Sutton of Hyperallergic reports.

The activists contend that the Los Angeles–based nonprofit 356 S. Mission Rd. is unwelcome in the downtown area adjacent to the Boyle Heights neighborhood. Established in 2012 by Owens, Gavin Brown, and Wendy Yao, the founder of Ooga Booga bookstore, the arts space is one of several institutions that have been targeted by activists who argue that they will cause property values within the neighborhood to rise, forcing out working-class communities.

This is the latest in a wave of actions organized to protest artists and arts organizations that activists believe are complicit in gentrification. Last month, 356 S. Mission Rd. decided to cancel an event featuring writers Chris Kraus and Artforum contributing editor Bruce Hainley, after members of the groups promised to disrupt it. For more than a year, galleries around Boyle Heights have been targeted by protesters, as well as vandalized. As a result of the “constant attacks,” the arts nonprofit PSSST decided to close its doors earlier this year.