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004 6ils06 61, to 644 t706..,,Ao . 666 el* 66,6 vidixtriNiti 66 ,6 66614666666:666-6,6 666, 606* ,01,46.1 2666646d1.666 ,661mg art, 662 6666 6466 ABW,11 WO. me% oil’ k6 ,64,6r m66066166% 464 aurldz itrn . ii1OrfAiii by 666.6.666er_166666.6 66.1666,, 6 66, 166 ViLTLIRE The Art of Capital Punishment BY PATRICK TIMMONS Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, Recent Works by Malaquias Montoya Dougherty Arts Center, Austin, January 5-30 Instituto Mexicano, San Antonio, February 17-28 ye always been against the death penalty,” says Malaquias Montoya. “I’ve just never been an activist.” Perhaps not an anti-death penalty activist, but Montoya, who teaches at the University of CaliforniaDavis, has long been considered a leading figure in social protest art. He is best known for public murals, silkscreen images, and offset lithograph posters decrying a trio of global evils: imperialism, racism, and sexism. Recently he came to Austin to introduce his latest work, which focuses on capital punishment. As he explains, during the 2000 presidential election he became aware of Texas’ high execution rate under thenGovernor Bush and was inspired to illustrate his feelings about what he refers to as “state-sanctioned killings!’ Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, Recent Works by Malaquias Montoya unites in a single room more than 20 images depicting the development of capital punishment in the United States since the late 19th century. As the catalogue text indicates, Montoya “does not produce his art for the purpose of selling, he does not exhibit in commercial galleries, and he is suspicious of museums.” But he does want to reach peopleparticularly people who will be motivated to contact their legislators. The violent subject matter of Premeditated demands a meditative space, one that allows lengthy, directed contemplation of difficult questions. Montoya begins this conversation with the The Executioner, 2003. Silkscreen viewer by asking, “Why do we kill? And what happens to us as a humanity, as a culture?” In paintings such as The Execution of the Innocent or The Execution of the Mentally Retarded, the viewer is asked to consider the moral implications of state power, a question that resonates strongly in a state that is the epicenter of America’s modern death pen alty experience. Montoya’s death penalty art derives edgy rawness from his belief that \(\(revenge doesn’t bring anything.” But revenge does make for emotionally disturbing art, as is apparent from the observations of visitors to the Dougherty Arts Center. “Powerful,” was the word most often used to describe their 04 I 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 4, 2005