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Calif. arts center to remove police-as-pigs painting after outcry

The center’s leadership offered “an abject apology” and the city’s mayor said he was extremely disappointed by the incident


By Suzie Ziegler

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — An arts center has issued an “abject apology” over an installation last week that depicted police officers as pigs, reported the Escondido Times-Advocate.

The art piece in question featured a painting of police officers covered by the spray-painted letters “A.P.A.B.” (all pigs are bastards). The piece also included a sculpture of three cartoon pigs dancing on a pile of doughnuts. The installation ignited a storm of controversy after its debut last Friday at the California Center for the Arts, according to the report.

Sara Matta, chairwoman of the CCAE board of trustees, said the installation would be taken down. At an Escondido City Council meeting on Monday, Matta asked for forgiveness and apologized for the painting.

“I’m here to offer an abject apology for all the problems we have caused you the last couple of weeks. It shocked us,” Matta said. “If you can, give us some time to work this through. Forgive us for causing this and give us some time to square it away.”

Mayor Paul McNamara said he would review the art center’s management in light of the incident. The art center’s staff choose its exhibits, but the center is owned by the city and receives subsidized funding, according to McNamara. Now, that funding is in question, the mayor says.

“After this recent incident and the tone deafness of it, we have at least a responsibility to discuss that,” McNamara said at the meeting.

In a statement to the Times-Advocate, the mayor said he “was extremely disappointed and angered” by the painting.

Ed Varso, Escondido Chief of Police, also spoke at the council meeting, reported the Times-Advocate.

“I am extremely disappointed to learn about the art piece depicting insulting images of honorable police officers,” Varso said. “Despite my disappointment, police officers understand that there are times when people will sling insults, even when we are there to protect them. The members of the Escondido Police Department will continue to display professionalism and serve our community.”