Poets and artists came out to the Natsoulas Gallery on Thursday to advocate the cause of UC Davis student-artist Tomás Matzat.
Matzat was charged with 15 misdemeanor counts and five felony counts in response to alleged acts of vandalism on campus. As part of the charges, Matzat has been ordered to pay around $6,000 in restitution to UC Davis.
“The tradition of graffiti art is long-standing and hasn’t been supported. The failure of certain artists to support this has been shameful,” said Joshua Clover, an English professor who helped organize the benefit.
Kristen Koster, a member of the Davis Antirepression Crew, organized the auction, which features works from Matzat as well as works donated by Chicano art figure Malaquías Montoya, Carlos Jackson, Jos Sances and Tom Bills.
“As a community, it is important that these students not be persecuted for their expression,” Koster said.
The reading started with Joe Wenderoth, UC Davis English professor, reading a series of his poems. He was followed by Juliana Spahr, English professor at Mills College in Oakland, reading an excerpt from “An Army of Lovers,” which she wrote with David Buuck, and Clover reading two of his works as well as an unfinished poem. During this time, Clover passed around a jar to collect donations for Matzat’s restitution.
They were followed by an open mic that featured poems read by graduates Joe Atkins and Aaron Begg, as well as students Cesar Reyes and Jimmy Recinos.
Dr. Andy Jones, who MCs for the Poetry Night Reading Series, said that artists have a duty to support each other.
“I think that to be an artist means to be misunderstood, uniformly derided and ignored,” Jones said. “As a result, artists find that they need to turn to each other for support, validation, community and audiences.”
To see the artwork being auctioned, visit davisantirepressioncrew.org/auction.
— John Kesler