Shocked and appalled
Gallery owner Lori Haigh after being hit by a coward
The picture which caused so many cowards to crawl from under their rocks, forgetting that if it didn't happen, no one could paint it
Attacked for art, S.F. gallery closes
Backers rally after violent responses to painting of tortured Iraqis
Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer
The furor began on May 16 when Colwell, an East Bay artist, made an addition to his monthlong showing at Haigh's gallery on Powell Street. Angered by the pictures he saw of Iraqi prisoners being abused, he created a black and white painting depicting three hooded and naked men undergoing electric shock torture by American soldiers. Colwell, who took down his paintings Saturday, declined to comment.
Two days after the painting went up, Haigh arrived at her gallery to find broken glass, eggs and trash strewn outside her storefront. Haigh also began receiving the first of about 200 angry voicemails, e-mails and death threats.
A week ago, a man walked into the gallery and spit in Haigh's face. On Tuesday, Haigh decided to temporarily close the gallery and began to consider giving up on her dream of owning an art gallery. Just two days later, another man knocked on the door of the gallery and then punched Haigh in the face, knocking her out, breaking her nose and causing a concussion.
It's more than Haigh ever imagined. She opened the studio 1 1/2 years ago, hoping to display the works of important and possibly controversial modern artists.
"I enjoyed listening to people's different opinions on what they saw," said Haigh, a mother of two. "That was part of the joy of having a gallery."
"When this can happen in the middle of North Beach in San Francisco, where people always expressed themselves, it means Iraq is not the only place being occupied," said Daniel Macchiarini, a North Beach gallery owner himself. "But this is an act of desperation. The people who attack like this, their ideas have failed."
On Saturday, Haigh's supporters tried to remind her of the joy in owning a gallery in North Beach, long a haunt for counterculture poets and artists.
I am outraged by this.
First, US troops tortured these people and saying so is the truth, not a slander or fiction. It happened.
Second, where are the police? The mayor of SF was brave when he had to hand out some now useless marriage licenses to same sex couples, but this woman is violently attacked by cowards in the most liberal city in America and she doesn't merit police protection? It's obvious that she's been the vicitim of harassment and violent assault and from this story, there is a deafening official silence. Which is intolerable. SF is supposed to be the least likely city, for this kind of thuggery. And it is thuggery, pure and simple.
I think, in New York, the police would be outside the gallery and looking for suspects. After the mayor denounced a painting n the Brooklyn Museum, people were arrested for attempting to deface it.
Third, any man who could walk up to a woman and punch her in the face belongs in jail. If he was so brave, he could enlist at any time and walk around Iraq or Afghanistan, where courage is always needed. He didn't show anything but the rankest sort of cowardice. As did the man who spit in her face. What utterly gutless, shameful cowards. Did they think they were proving their manhood by doing this? Or defending America?
Daniel Macchiarini is right. People do this kind of despicable shit out of desperation, not out of conviction. They are afraid of the truth and have to resort to violence to make their point. However, the city of San Francisco should make every effort to jail these cowards. Anything less is an abdication of the responsibility as government officials and Americans.
posted by Steve @ 12:06:00 AM