Santa Monica Art Bank Acquires a Work by Gary Tyler, Winner of the Frieze Impact Prize

The artist spent 42 years in prison before his release in 2016, making the acquisition of his work In Memoriam of an Ashanti Warrior (2024) especially poignant

in Frieze Los Angeles , News | 29 FEB 24

The City of Santa Monica’s Art Bank has acquired a work by Gary Tyler. Tyler, an LA resident, is the recipient of this year’s Frieze Los Angeles Impact Prize. Tyler’s piece, In Memoriam of an Ashanti Warrior was chosen by a jury comprising Christine Messineo (Director of Americas, Frieze), Amanda Sroka (Senior Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) and Laurie Yehia (Vice Chair, City of Santa Monica Arts Commission). The acquisition stems from an annual partnership between Frieze and Santa Monica to grow the city’s public Art Bank collection with work made by an artist based in Southern California. 

Gary Tyler, Photo by Dorian Hill, courtesy of the artist and Library Street Collective
Gary Tyler. Photo by Dorian Hill, courtesy of the artist and Library Street Collective

Yehia said of the acquisition: “I am thrilled that we will be adding Gary Tyler’s important artwork to the City’s Art Bank. The jurors were drawn to the work’s strength and clarity of vision, born of Tyler’s personal transformation story. We were engaged by the colorful and graphic yet gracefully quilted imagery, conveying a sense of empowerment and hope—and the power of art—within the context of incarceration. It truly is a pleasure to work with our partners in Frieze to invest in Santa Monica’s vibrant arts and culture.” 

Gary Tyler, In Memoriam of an Ashanti Warrior, 2024

Tyler was 17 when he was sentenced to death for murder. He subsequently spent 42 years in prison, before his sentence was commuted and he was released in 2016. His work utilizes traditional fabric quilting techniques, a skill he learned while working in a prison hospice for terminally ill inmates. It addresses the US carceral system’s inequities. Drawing on his own experience of wrongful incarceration, the artist frequently portrays himself and individuals encountered at Angola State Penitentiary to illuminate the complexity of the prison experience. As the winner of the 2024 Frieze Los Angeles Impact Prize, launched with Endeavor Impact and realized this year in partnership with The Center for Art and Advocacy, Tyler is presenting a booth at the fair and receives a $25,000 prize.

About the Santa Monica Art Bank

Santa Monica’s Art Bank collection began in 1984 to bring art into Santa Monica’s public spaces, funded through the City’s Percent for Art Program. The Art Bank contains over 200 works—including sculpture, painting, photography, and works on paper—by such notable artists as Laura Aguilar, Lita Albuquerque, Charles Gaines, Kerry James Marshall, Linda Vallejo and other artists active in Southern California. The collection also incorporates gifts of artwork received by the City over the course of the last century, including 18th- and 19th-century landscapes, portraits, preparatory drawings and maquettes by artists commissioned to make public art in Santa Monica. Acquisitions into the City’s collection have supported many artists of the Southern California region, including Edgar Ramirez, whose work Bajío (2023) was acquired from the Focus section at Frieze Los Angeles 2023. 

Further Information

Frieze Los Angeles is at Santa Monica Airport, February 29–March 3, 2024.


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