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Capobianco Gallery closed?
May 30, 2004 2:13 AM   Subscribe

The Capobianco Gallery in San Francisco is closed. Its owner, Lori Haigh, was assaulted for displaying a painting by Guy Colwell which depicts the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
posted by homunculus (43 comments total)

 
Not really the point, but the painting in question looks really quite propagandaesque to me. Two scrawny ape-like, diseased characters torturing three, strangely arian-looking chiseled Adoni.
posted by ed\26h at 6:07 AM on May 30, 2004


That's a nasty black eye she sports - insane! Reminds me a little of when the Museum director got pushed down the steep stairs the day after the Israeli ambassador objected to Dror Feilers installation in Stockholm. What's with shooting the messenger?
posted by dabitch at 6:12 AM on May 30, 2004


So many points to make:

"propagandaesque" or not - it's still free speech. I still support the troops, but those responsible should be punished and those actions need to be part of the discussion. Art is part of the discussion.

I hate to think the people protesting the artwork are ahead of their times. Is it possible our government will start censoring next? Nah...
posted by fluffycreature at 7:13 AM on May 30, 2004


This is why 2nd amendment rights are so important ... if she was armed, no one would have dared do this.

And yes - it may well be coming to the point where we will have to arm ourselves to keep our freedom against the Bushite mobs.
posted by pyramid termite at 7:17 AM on May 30, 2004


This is analogous to mathowie getting beaten up for something one of us wrote on Mefi. Nice...
posted by rushmc at 7:25 AM on May 30, 2004


Something's goofy. The painting is just a reflection on pictures we've all seen (and as ed points out, strangely executed at that). It doesn't carry any of the shock value of, say, the dung-covered paintings that Giuliani detested so much. And there's hardly a thriving community of Republican art-haters in San Francisco. I say that there's something more to this.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:29 AM on May 30, 2004


the punishment of those who support degenerate art is nothing new, really

Godwin, I know.
but still. this is very very scary

posted by matteo at 7:34 AM on May 30, 2004


and of course Colwell's painting is appallingly amateurish. not that it matters.
posted by matteo at 7:35 AM on May 30, 2004


"propaganda" or not - it's still free speech.

Whether the painting is an legitimate use of free speech or not is not the issue I was trying to communicate. Instead I was stating that it looked very reminiscent of (Nazi style) propaganda to me.
posted by ed\26h at 7:51 AM on May 30, 2004


matteo -- Isn't that always the way.

Seems to me the gallery was looking for some publicity and put this high schooler's attempt at being deep and meaningful on their walls.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:12 AM on May 30, 2004


DemandMedia is featuring a video on the exhibit.

For those who haven't checked out demandmedia's site yet, you may want to do so. They're worth a FPP on their own right.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:14 AM on May 30, 2004


And I realize Guy Colwell is too old to be in high school. I'm just commenting on the style. Why do all the hacks have to use acrylic? Gah.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:14 AM on May 30, 2004


When a fire can destroy 100 works of art and be greeted with laughs and derision in the press, I guess we should be glad that some art (if even it is rather poor) can arouse strong emotions.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:24 AM on May 30, 2004


Yyyyyyyeah, I guess I can see the resemblance to some Third Reich art. But my first impression is that it was an excuse to draw some really hot naked guys. And it's as if they're becoming increasingly sizzling and chisled, and the soldiers can't handle it. Pretty silly painting.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:26 AM on May 30, 2004


I have to admit to having been slightly aroused.
posted by ed\26h at 8:38 AM on May 30, 2004


Doesn't removing the painting and shutting the gallery send the message that use of force/brutality can result in getting your way? So sad...
posted by shoepal at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2004


If it is the threat of more violence which has persuaded Lori Haigh to close the gallery, then, quite literally, the painting is absolutely meaningless anyway, so she might as well.
posted by Hildago at 10:16 AM on May 30, 2004


I agree with shoepal and I'm surprised the comment didn't come up sooner. Lori Haigh is a coward for closing the gallery. Yes, it's scary as hell to get beat up, but there are many responses worthy of someone committed to art and free expression that wouldn't include self-censorship (or an absurd reference to the Second Amendment). It's always astonishing to me how quickly people hide behind naive and worthless "art criticism" when something so much bigger and relevant to art is at stake.
posted by divrsional at 11:36 AM on May 30, 2004


perhaps she figured - with her children threatened and all - that it would be PR smarter of her to actually close the gallery and get it in the news, rather than get ignored until something really dramatic happens..
posted by dabitch at 11:45 AM on May 30, 2004


I'm from San Francisco. It takes about three phone calls there to raise a community response. Hell, make the first one to Joan Baez, and that should cover it.
posted by divrsional at 12:07 PM on May 30, 2004


I wasn't criticising her decision or declaring her a coward* so much as pointing out that it is a really sad state of affairs when someone can assault and threaten a gallery owner over a work of "art" (regardless of merit) and get it removed, thus reinforcing the theme of the painting. SFMOMA should buy the piece and put it in the lobby for all to admire and detest. Or maybe someone should make stickers of the painting and plaster them around town. It does seem odd that SF has been so complacent about the whole affair.

*I don't think she is a coward. I agree it was a prudent decision.
posted by shoepal at 12:47 PM on May 30, 2004


dodgygeezer: Tracy Emin's tent looks suspiciously like one I got from Aldi for £19.99. Said tent was torched at Reading Festival in 1998. It was moudly. Maybe I should have sold it to Charles Saatchi?
posted by xpermanentx at 12:50 PM on May 30, 2004


Lori Haigh is a coward for closing the gallery. Yes, it's scary as hell to get beat up, but there are many responses worthy of someone committed to art and free expression that wouldn't include self-censorship

I agree. And furthermore think that this cowardice (I read a nice phrase the other day that I think applies here: "culture of cravenness") is very widespread in our culture, which goes a long way toward explaining why we are currently in the process of relinquishing many freedoms that previous generations had the intestinal fortitude to earn for us the hard way.
posted by rushmc at 12:59 PM on May 30, 2004


SFMOMA should buy the piece and put it in the lobby for all to admire and detest.

I kind of wish this brouha was over a more worthy piece of art. The libertarian side of me gets all riled up thinking about this, then I take another look at the painting and can't help but focus on how much of a clumsily-executed piece of crap it is. Should it be elevated because of the controversy? This sure ain't Guernica. Should it be displayed? Maybe in Tom's of Finland.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:04 PM on May 30, 2004


Was that a piss poor grammatically constructd post of mine? Damn straight.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:09 PM on May 30, 2004


TungstenChef, I agree that the piece isn't necessarily worthy of display for its artistic merit or demonstration of skill, but it clearly is effective as a controversial piece of "art", which in this case sort of necessitates a response from the art community that holds freedom of speech/expression so near and dear. You can't declare that only "worthy" pieces of art should be protected, can you?

I was being (half) sarcastic when i said that SFMOMA should buy it. Regardless of worth, it should most definitely be publicly displayed, if only to piss off those that saw fit to throw eggs and make threats. Antagonize the sonsofbitches. If they really are that offended by acrylic on canvas then they have deeper issues that need to be dealt with, or at least brought out into the public eye.
posted by shoepal at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2004


shoepal, - In my heart I know you're right, those reactionaries need to be opposed at every turn. It's just hard getting riled up over something so...for lack of a better word...crappy.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2004


She did not deserve to get punched in the face. Period. I could give a fuck regarding her possible cowardice, the artistic merit of the work, or whatever. A man walked into a gallery and punched this woman, knocking her unconscious. That is just fucking appalling.
posted by gwint at 2:06 PM on May 30, 2004


Man, this made me so mad, I had to go and make some art.
posted by gwint at 2:25 PM on May 30, 2004


If it is the threat of more violence which has persuaded Lori Haigh to close the gallery, then, quite literally, the painting is absolutely meaningless anyway, so she might as well.

Well no, closing the gallery does not effect the meaning of the painting.
posted by ed\26h at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2004


[She was] assaulted for displaying a painting by Guy Colwell which depicts the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Now that's a great example of art coming to life! I wonder if it was a soldier who beat her up.
posted by wackybrit at 3:52 PM on May 30, 2004


rushmc: I agree. And furthermore think that this cowardice (I read a nice phrase the other day that I think applies here: "culture of cravenness") is very widespread in our culture, which goes a long way toward explaining why we are currently in the process of relinquishing many freedoms that previous generations had the intestinal fortitude to earn for us the hard way.

Such as my wonderful ancestors who ran away on the Mayflower rather than be on the loosing end of a religious civil war? Yeah, it would have been nice to see her keep the studio open, but we all pick and choose our battles. While closing the studio is regrettable, funny things happen when your children come into the equation.

It would be unfortunate if she closes shop entirely. But on the other hand, putting the blame on her for having her vocation beaten out of her seems unnecessarily harsh.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:54 PM on May 30, 2004


gwint: Word.
posted by botono9 at 8:49 PM on May 30, 2004


It's just hard getting riled up over something so...for lack of a better word...crappy.

Well, don't get riled up over that. Get riled up over the fact that someone perpetrated physical violence against another person over a painting. A painting the victim didn't even paint.
posted by botono9 at 8:51 PM on May 30, 2004


"Lori Haigh is a coward for closing the gallery."

"I agree"

Lori Haigh took a brutal beating for free speech. You sit there safely at your keyboard. Who's the coward?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:53 PM on May 30, 2004


Not really the point, but the painting in question looks really quite propagandaesque to me. Two scrawny ape-like, diseased characters torturing three, strangely arian-looking chiseled Adoni.

Arian looking? How are they arian looking? Small penii?
posted by delmoi at 10:22 PM on May 30, 2004


This isn't the first time the gallery owner was in the news.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:49 PM on May 30, 2004


Small penii?

Oooh. Racist.
posted by ed\26h at 3:45 AM on May 31, 2004


Tracy Emin's tent looks suspiciously like one I got from Aldi for £19.99. Said tent was torched at Reading Festival in 1998. It was moudly. Maybe I should have sold it to Charles Saatchi?

And as your tent burned to the ground people stood around and laughed at the destruction of your property?
posted by dodgygeezer at 4:06 AM on May 31, 2004


A man walked into a gallery and punched this woman, knocking her unconscious. That is just fucking appalling.

Well, of course. I assumed that was a given.

Lori Haigh took a brutal beating for free speech.

Clearly she did NOT take the beating for free speech but rather for capitalism. Had she chosen to keep displaying the work and taken a SECOND beating, one could perhaps say that that one was "for free speech."

People who don't take actions that back up their convictions are also appalling. And people who are going to use their children as an excuse not to do the right thing shouldn't have any.
posted by rushmc at 6:37 AM on May 31, 2004


Whoa! Nice find, MegoSteve. Rough...
posted by shoepal at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2004


Had she chosen to keep displaying the work and taken a SECOND beating, one could perhaps say that that one was "for free speech."

Didja not read the article? The punch that broke her nose and gave her a concussion wasn't the first physical violence that occurred. She kept displaying the piece, despite constant verbal, physical and property attacks.

She closed the gallery when someone broke her nose, knocked her unconscious and gave her a concussion...for displaying a piece of art. (The merits of which are not really relevant to the discussion.) Hardly irrational, hardly cowardly, and hardly running from a fight.
posted by dejah420 at 9:55 PM on May 31, 2004


-you can die from being punched in the face.

-guy colwell is a well-known 'underground' comic artist from the 60's and 70's...did lots of sex comics and social issues....the painting is in that style combining his two interests.

-I think it is intentionally dishonest of people who can't object as much to this because the painting wasn't up to their standards. Come on. Just admit it. You think it was unpatriotic or subversive or something. You secretly fantasize about punching people in the face as they open their door.

-I've seen Way more offensive art work in galleries.

-I would be just as horrified if it was tom kincade, painter of light who was assaulted.

-gwint, that is a masterpiece.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:25 PM on May 31, 2004


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