Rigo 23’s artwork engages Beverly Hills’ history as Tongva land and a place called “a gathering of waters.” In the artwork, water will be depicted in different stages of stillness and motion, animated as the Metro rider walks by. A waterscape framed by plant life strengthens connectedness to the natural world and history’s slower tempo, while also offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of the commute. Enlarged portraits of indigenous plants represent gifts to Spanish explorer Portola’s expedition by local Tongva representatives, a gesture of welcoming and generosity at the center of Los Angeles’ origin story. This generosity would not be reciprocated by the waves of European arrivals. The Tongva people and their culture were nearly erased by foreign cultural and religious impositions as well as the introduction of diseases to which the locals had no defenses. This project aims to contribute to the reversal of a multi-century long process of erasure, forgetting and replacing.
Gathering of the Waters focuses on a seminal encounter between local Tongva populations and Portola’s expedition. The site’s toponymy bears witness to its accumulated human history.
The captions appear in Tongva, Spanish and English – the linguistic journey mirroring the administrative one – from Indigenous sovereignty to Spanish colonial subject and current integration into the United States of America.
About the Artist
RIGO 23 (b. 1966, Madeira, Portugal) is best known for large-scale public interventions that engage socio-political issues, bring awareness to injustices, and encourage community involvement. An early member of San Francisco’s Mission School movement, many of his iconic works are located in that city. The Clarion Alley Mural Project, which he co-founded and led in the early 90’s, continues active to this day. Rigo 23 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University.
His works in a variety of media have been exhibited worldwide and his numerous public art commissions include Thinking of Balmy Alley, San Francisco International Airport (1999), Birdman of Bali, Bali (2004); Luz, Amistad y Libertad, Cuba (2004); Victory Salute, San Jose State University (2005); Eco Armada, India (2012); Leonard Peltier-Waiting, created in 2016 and since exhibited throughout the United States; Moon, Earth’s Oldest Satellite, Folkstone, UK (2017); Pebbles in a Pond (2019) and When a Cause is Noble (2021) Richmond, California, in collaboration with formerly incarcerated Black Panther activists of Angola Louisiana State Prison. He is currently working on Grizzlies of Mission Creek (2025) for a public park in San Francisco.