Gil Batle, Kite Deck, 2017, ostrich egg shell, 6 1/2 x 5 x 5".

Gil Batle

Ricco / Maresca Gallery

Gil Batle, Kite Deck, 2017, ostrich egg shell, 6 1/2 x 5 x 5".

Gil Batle used to go to Walmart in Southern California and scrutinize the cashiers. He’d keep his eyes peeled for anyone who was new, bored, or unremittingly sloppy. When he found his mark, Batle would visit his or her checkout line with some expensive appliance in tow and would pay for it with a money order. But the piece of paper he’d hand over for his big-ticket item was an exquisitely made drawing—a counterfeit. Batle would then sell his stealthily looted merchandise on the street for cash to support his crystal meth addiction. His skills as a master forger got him into a lot of trouble; Batle spent about twenty years in and out of jail, much of it for fraud. However, in prison, where he’d supply his fellow inmates with drawings or tattoos, his talents as an artist earned him respect and, perhaps most importantly, protection. Having been free for about a decade, Batle

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