Mon. Sep 28th, 2020

Gallerist Arrested After Dropping Sculpture Of Giant Drug Spoon In Front Of Purdue Pharma

Gallerist Arrested After Dropping Sculpture Of Giant Drug Spoon In Front Of Purdue Pharma

As a protest to the opioid crisis, artist Domenic Esposito and gallerist Fernando Luis Alvarez (speaking) placed a spoon sculpture in front of the Purdue Pharma building in Stamford early Friday morning. A Stamford art gallery owner was arrested and charged with a criminal misdemeanor and a felony Friday morning after dropping an 800-pound steel sculpture of a bent, burnt heroin spoon in front of Purdue Pharma, a top manufacturer of opioids, and then refusing to remove it. Fernando Luis Alvarez, who is mounting an exhibit on the opioid epidemic, was charged with obstruction of free passage for his act of “guerrilla art,” and or interfering with police in front of the 201 Tresser Blvd. corporate headquarters. The spoon was placed in an automotive drop-off spot, making the path unusable. The placement of the sculpture was the misdemeanor charge; refusal to remove it resulted in the felony charge. Police also informed Alvarez he might be charged financially for the removal and storage of the artwork, which is 10-1/2 feet long. Alvarez said the sculpture and its placement are a statement intended to create a groundswell of outrage against Purdue and the billionaire Sackler family, who are majority owners of the company, which developed OxyContin. “I have been extremely bothered and moved by the architects of this epidemic,” Alvarez said. “I want to hold this family responsible for what they created and put in front of society and created a modern-day massacre.” The interactions between Alvarez and police were cordial. While waiting to issue the summons, the gallerist and the cops chatted amiably about civic matters and the opioid epidemic. The sculpture, named “Purdue,” was made by Boston-based artist Domenic Esposito, who was present at the time of the sculpture drop. Esposito was not charged or arrested. He said before the art drop that he and Alvarez decided who would take the criminal charges. Esposito was inspired to create the artwork by his brother’s drug addiction. Esposito said his brother started with OxyContin and Percocet and moved to heroin. “People say [OxyContin snd Percocet] aren’t a big deal, but then you’re hooked and you run out of money and you turn to heroin.” Esposito’s brother Danny has been struggling with addiction for almost 14 years and has overdosed a few times. “My mom would call me in a panic … screaming she found another burnt spoon,” Esposito said. “This is a story thousands of families go through. He’s lucky to be alive.” In 2007, Purdue pled guilty in federal court to mislabeling OxyContin and misleading the public about the risk of addiction, and had to pay $600 million. Three company executives were convicted of criminal charges. The firm has been and remains the target of numerous lawsuits, with legal actions against it increasing since the opioid epidemic reached a critical stage. The pharmacy could not be reached for comment on Friday morning. “It’s an important matter,” Alvarez told a police officer. “People are dying by the tens of thousands and nobody is doing anything about it.” Alvarez is close friends with Arturo di Modica, the sculptor who dropped the brass sculpture of a charging bull in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of the night in 1989. That statue has since become a famous symbol for Wall Street. Alvarez said di Modica’s unauthorized art drop inspired his own. On Friday, Alvarez started a hashtag, #thespoon, for people to tell stories of opiate addiction. Connecticut is rich with art galleries, museums and artists; at any given time, there are dozens of exhibits to see, all over the state, by a wide variety of artists using a wide variety of techniques. ArtSmart is the place to go to see what’s out there, who’s out there, where it is and how long it will be there. (Susan Dunne, The Hartford Courant)

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