Artist Andrea Bowers turns activist -- sitting in Arcadia tree to protest the razing of grove
Artist Andrea Bowers, known for confronting in her work heated (and often neglected) political issues like immigrant fatalities and AIDS awareness, has now literally gone out on a limb for her beliefs. She is one of four people "treesitting" in a grove of oaks and sycamores in Arcadia to protest their bulldozing by the L.A. County Department of Public Works.
Her gallerist Susanne Vielmetter reports that, from her perch high in an oak tree, Andrea "is documenting the protest and also participating in it--fulfilling a promise to John Quigley, who organized the action." Quigley appeared in a video by Bowers at the gallery early last year, in which the artist is taking lessons on how to climb a tree and make it more or less habitable.
"All of her work in the last few years has been about political activists--she's been interested in a number of them and befriended a number of them, and one was John Quigley," says Vielmetter. The gallerist describes the 2009 video as a turning point in another respect: it's the first time Bowers appeared in one of her own videos.
In his ongoing coverage of the tree-sitting protest, which began at sunrise Wednesday morning, Louis Sahagun of The Times described Quigley as a "veteran of arboreal acts of civil disobedience." By 4 p.m., Sahagun reported that the grove near Santa Anita and Elkin avenues had been reduced to "stumps, broken limbs and slash piles" (see photo above), with more than 30% cleared.
Bowers, who told Vielmetter she was "nervous and also excited" the night before the climb, noted that she is prepared to stay up in the tree for as long as four days. The artist has so far been communicating with her gallery via an assistant. Along with video equipment, she has a cellphone with her in the tree, but is apparently using it sparingly to save the batteries for emergencies.
Photo: The grove on Wednesday afternoon, after a number of trees were cleared. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times