Uriel Landeros’ one-man show at Houston’s James Gallery has garnered national attention, with articles in the Houston Chronicle, the NY Times, and the Associated Press. Landeros is the 22-year old charged with felony graffiti and felony criminal mischief for allegedly defacing “Woman in a Red Armchair” at Houston’s Menil Collection on June 13.
Gallery owner James Perez has been answering a lot of angry questions about the show from artists, the press and police; with some comebacks more thought-provoking than Landeros’ original alleged crime:
Threats of vandalism to Landeros’ works? Perez has already tagged one of them with Picasso’s signature, saying, “Hopefully someone will come here and graffiti this art, and they’ll get a felony too,” neatly pointing out the unequal application of the laws, depending on whether the victim is a rich, well established art institution, or a young, male, hispanic fugitive artist, who could face an incredible 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. The role of Landeros’ identity in the furor will reportedly be highlighted by a “Uriel Landeros look-alike contest” being organized for the opening.
Responding to accusations of self-serving grand-standing for putting on the show, Perez retorted: “I’m already popular- this is for Uriel”
Landeros himself released a Youtube video in which he earnestly explains his action as an attempt to raise awareness of society’s injustices. Obviously reading from off-screen notes, the three-minute video ends with a bit that helps explain the young man’s seemingly self-destructive act: “Fear controls you- once it doesn’t control you, you can become something else, something better,” he says, “I want to become something better.”