The May issue of Los Angeles Magazine contains a profile of Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries. (And, yes, we’ll link to the profile the moment that it’s out.) Under most circumstances, such a story would be illustrated by a photo portrait. But LA Mag decided to go another way and commissioned a painting of Fr. Greg by Boyle Heights artist, Fabian Deborah, a former gang member and drug addict who now heads Homeboy’s drug and alcohol program.
The painting-as-illustration idea was not so unusual, but Fabian did the thing in secret without telling the priest that he was fashioning his portrait.
I’ve known Fabian for nearly 2 decades, and some other day, we’ll tell the full story of how a near-miraculous art moment, along with Fr. Greg, saved Fabian’s life—and how art kept pulling Fabian back from the brink until he could finally and truly save himself.
For now, here are a few clips of LA Mag’s interview with Fabian Deborah about his secret Boyle-related painting project.
You painted a portrait of Father Boyle for the first time for our profile. Tell us about the artwork.
The painting took me approximately seven days to create and is acrylic paint on a standard 30-inch-by-40-inch canvas. Father Boyle is my father, my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. It’s nice to paint a portrait of your mentor, although it has to be done in the proper manner. I wanted to make sure it was up to par. I wanted to be able to connect him to his roots—the Mission and the housing projects. The [painting represents] the progression of his vision. He doesn’t like to be glorified, but it was an honor for me. I had many wonderful memories as I was placing the paint onto the canvas. I’m just waiting to see his reaction—it’s a surprise he doesn’t know about yet.
Was it hard for you to keep him in the dark?
Oh yes, it was very hard. I felt like going to him many times to get his approval, but I had to go around him and ask coworkers about his likeness with the painting. The responses were great, so that helped me go through with the painting.
How do you hope Father Boyle responds?
I hope he feels the importance of his action when he inspired me to create art back when I was ten years old. Like, “Wow, now he painted me after all these years. I am now a part of his works of art.”
What does your art say about Boyle Heights?
I think it shines light. As a representative of Boyle Heights, I’m trying to invite the audience to see the beauty within my community, without the stereotypes and the stigma that it has had because of the gangs and violence. There’s a lot of richness and culture as well as the individual. The homie is a human being. When I paint the homie, it’s not to glorify his actions, it’s to return him to humanity. It’s about redemption. It’s a way of healing for me.
EVERYBODY’S SHOUTING AT JERRY BROWN—WHICH IS SORT OF A BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS SITUATION
Two weeks ago Thursday, a very angry three-judge panel spent a lot of time shouting at—or at least talking harshly to—- the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, about how Brown hadn’t reduced California’s prison population as far as the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling has demanded. There was some mention of throwing Jerry Brown into jail for contempt if he didn’t come up with a plan to get with the program.
All this judicial shouting occurred amidst the ongoing and seemingly constant drumbeat of furious criticism aimed Brown and his AB109 prison realignment plan, which has managed to reduce the prison population by more than 30,000 inmates, by mandating—among other things—-that certain short-term incarcerations be served at a county level, in jail, not in state prison.
The bulk of those serving time in jail, rather than prison, under realignment are drug offenders. In fact a look at the most recent report released by the California Department of Corrections shows that at the end of 2010, about 24,889 inmates convicted of drug crimes were residing in California prisons. By the end of 2012, that number had fallen by nearly half, to 12,364.
Realignment—the policy that, among other changes, shifts certain lower has been blamed for nearly every bad news violent crime or crime rate hiccup, that has occurred since its inception, no matter that, in most cases, there is no factual causal connection. (Some critics have actually suggested the the governor be indicted for some of the crimes committed during realignment.)
A slew of bills have been introduced in the state legislature, all hoping to tweak AB109 in ways that will put more people back in prison.
However, Thomas Elias writing for the Daily News points out how the being snarled at by a trio federal judges may not be the worst thing in the world for Brown as he deals with those who are demanding that he roll back AB109 in order to lock more people up for longer again.
Here’s a clip:
Normally, it’s uncomfortable to hear a federal judge — let alone a panel of three jurists — thunder criticism at one from the bench.
But as usual, Gov. Jerry Brown is different. Prison realignment has drawn more criticism than any other single thing he has done in his second incarnation as governor, even. But the judges’ tirade now provides Brown a convenient scapegoat, one on which he can pin blame for the entire prisoner-release program, and with complete accuracy.
“At no point over the past several months have defendants indicated any willingness to comply, or made any attempt to comply, with the orders of this court,” said the panel of judges, referring to Brown and his administration. “In fact, they have blatantly defied (court orders). ”
The three jurists gave Brown 21 days to submit a plan for meeting their prison population target by the end of this year. If Brown doesn’t simultaneously begin complying with the court order, the judges said, he risks being cited for contempt. So the governor said he would ready a plan to release 10,000 more prisoners in case his appeals fail.
Read the rest here.
(NOTE: a thank you to Elias for writing factually and unhysterically on this issue.)