Formerly incarcerated artist partners with wine maker The Prisoner

March 14, 2024

“The Prisoner, which is based in Napa Valley, announced [in February] that it will feature Jesse Krimes’ artwork on bottles of its Reserve Red Blend that is part of the wine maker’s limited-edition Corrections series, which aims to use art and wine to advocate for prison reform. A percentage of the sales will be donated to the Center for Art & Advocacy, an organization founded by Krimes that helps artists directly impacted by incarceration.

“Krimes entered the criminal justice system at age 13 and most recently spent 70 months in federal prison on a drug charge. Krimes said he began selling drugs because he grew up in poverty in Philadelphia and was looking to live ‘with some bit of dignity.’

“With his work, Krimes tries to show the reality of the prison system and the stories of those who are incarcerated.

It’s very important to support formerly incarcerated artists … because they are able to tell a different narrative …

“‘A lot of people will say that the prison system is broken; I actually don’t think it is broken,’ he said. ‘I think it is doing the exact thing that it was set out and designed to do, which is basically destroy and punish and traumatize people. I think that is the core function of our carceral system.’

“Sensationalized stories of incarceration in movies, television and in the news, Krimes said, mischaracterize people in prison as criminal masterminds.

“‘Everyone in prison is just a normal human being. They’re a person, and the reason why it’s very important to support formerly incarcerated artists is because they are able to tell a different narrative,’ Krimes said. ‘They’re able to make artwork, movies, films, writing, that engage with audiences that tell a very human story and not over-sensationalized entertainment that we often encounter.’

Photo courtesy The Prisoner

“The label on the Corrections wine bottle is an adaptation of Krimes’ piece ‘Apokaluptein: 16389067,’ named after the Greek word for apocalypse and his Federal Bureau of Prisons identification number. Krimes originally crafted the 40-by-15-foot artwork out of 39 bedsheets while he was incarcerated. He worked with designers to translate that into a label, which included printing it on linen paper stock to mimic the texture of the sheets.”

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