Sunday, August 31, 2008

Leading Art Historian Michael Baxandall Dies at 74


“A 15th-century painting is the deposit of a social relationship.”
-Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in 15th-Century Italy, 1972

According to William Grimes in the New York Times, Baxandall in his ground breaking work of art history,Painting and Experience in 15th-Century Italy , " laid bare not only the patron-client transactions that influenced the making of an artwork, but also something he called the period eye: the act of perception determined by social circumstances. In a famous example, he showed how Italians knew how to appraise the volume of a barrel by sight, and how artists played to this carefully cultivated skill."

“Baxandall provided the tools we needed to take works of art out of the frame and off the pedestal to see how they really worked,” said Thomas Crow, a professor of modern art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. “Baxandall made it possible to see, through the art, how societies organized themselves and, conversely, how individuals perceived their own experiences and inner lives.”

More at:
New York Times on Baxandall

Bless New Orleans


Matthew Hinton/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A storefront, boarded-up to protect against the coming storm, awaits Hurricane Gustav in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

As Hurricane Gustav speeds towards New Orleans, our thoughts and emotions turn to this historic city and its residents, again, and, yes, again. On this Sunday morning, we all are citizens of New Orleans. Over the last three years, as organizations and individuals have collaborated in the slow, complex rebuilding of this amazing city a couple organizations stand out to me. Habitat for Humanity and Music Rising are two noteworthy groups. It is astonishing to contemplate how much will be needed after Gustav moves through beginning Monday morning. It will call upon all of us to turn our concern into action. Lets all start now.

Ghost of New Orleans
Gregg Chadwick
Ghost of New Orleans
48"x36" oil on linen 2006
Julie Nester Gallery
featured in the film La Cucina


Follow the storm at:
National Weather Service, Hurricane Gustav
Remember to help the victims of Katrina at:
Music Rising
Habitat for Humanity

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin Loves Bears, Dead Ones That Is

- As Carl Pope of the Sierra Club says, “No one is closer to the oil industry than Governor Palin.”


Biologists who have studied polar bear populations have concluded that Sarah Palin's assertion that polar bear populations are on the rise is mere fiction and a politically motivated misreading of the facts:
Ian Stirling's, an emeritus scientist with Canada's Department of the Environment and a professor at the University of Alberta, peer-reviewed research conducted with other scientists for the US Geological Survey clearly shows that "polar bear populations have not been increasing for the past 30 years, and that's a well-known fact." Stirling has studied polar bears for 37 years which puts him at the top of his field. "In fact, the polar bear population has actually declined by 20 percent in Alaska's Southern Beaufort Sea since the mid-1980s," Stirling said. "The research reports with this information have been available to Palin for more than a year", Stirling said.

What is the reason for the decline in the polar bear population? - Loss of their habitat in the form of melting ice, due to global warming.

Anchorage Daily News/MCT—Landov
-Sarah Palin sits on dead and stuffed friends.


Even with this knowledge, Sarah Lai Stirland writes in Wired Magazine, that "Palin sued the Interior Department for putting polar bears on the endangered species list. In the lawsuit, filed this month in federal district court in the District of Columbia, Palin argues that the government's move to list polar bears as endangered is not based on sound science, and restricts oil and natural gas development. The Interior Department had put the bears on the list in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, who argued that the bears are being threatened by global warming. In an interview on the conservative CNN talk show hosted by Glenn Beck earlier this year, Palin said that she was worried that environmentalists are using the Endangered Species Act to block the extraction of oil and gas."
During this interview Palin claimed erroneously that " the number of polar bears has risen dramatically over the past 30 years."
Of course Ian Stirling's peer-reviewed research clearly shows Palin to be wrong.

Palin could care less about the bears, instead she supports increased drilling in protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge. But the Department of Energy has concluded that offshore drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”

Opening the Arctic Refuge would most likely lower gasoline prices by two cents in 17 years. For two cents, Palin would destroy the home of America’s native polar bears, seriously jeopardizing the future of the bears and other species native to the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge.

Palin champions oil drilling, and rejects clean renewable energy that is an alternative to oil. Earlier this month, she claimed that “alternative-energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop. Palin would help John McCain's energy policies mirror those of Bush-Cheney which brought us more than $4.00 per gallon gasoline and the rising threat of global warming. Like McCain, Palin believes that oil drilling is the only solution to our energy problems. “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem,” she says.

Scientists are growing clearer in their understanding that Alaska has become a poster state for the damages of global warming as the climate gets hotter and sea levels rise due to melting ice. In Sarah Palin's home state of Alaska, more than 100 towns are vulnerable due to eroding sea lines. Is she worried? Nah, global warming according to Palin doesn't exist. Her pseudo science extends to the realm of creationism, which was part of her gubernatorial platform.


"A polar bear is seen in the water during an aerial survey off the Alaska coast in this photo taken August 15, 2008. Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest level ever, U.S. scientists said on Wednesday, with particular melting in the Chukchi Sea, where polar bears were recently seen swimming far off the Alaskan coast."
-REUTERS/Geoff York/World Wildlife Fund/Handout



No matter what silly tales Palin tries to spin, it is obvious to real scientists that polar bears are threatened by the melting ice in the Arctic. Recently, polar bears were spotted swimming nearly 50 miles offshore in a desperate attempt to find intact ice and cling to their vanishing habitat.

As Carl Pope of the Sierra Club says, “No one is closer to the oil industry than Governor Palin.” Sarah Palin has taken positions that would ensure a continuation of the Bush-Cheney energy policies. Palin supports drilling everywhere, including National Parks, and ignores the need for binding reductions in emissions that lead to global warming- even though her state is melting. Sarah Palin's policies will lead to an environmental train wreck, higher energy costs, more severe weather patterns including hurricanes and droughts, and despoiled natural treasures. In essence - a despoiled America for our children's future.
The United States of America and the world cannot afford to have a George III administration of McCain & Palin wreaking havoc on the globe by continuing and expanding the failed energy and environmental policies of the current administration.

McCain VP Pick No Friend to Polar Bears
Arctic ice second-lowest ever; polar bears affected
Ian Stirling
Palin and the Environment

Carl Pope:
"Mr. Pope is co-author -- along with Paul Rauber -- of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, which the New York Review of Books called "a splendidly fierce book." Mr. Pope's other books include Sahib, an American Misadventure in India (1971) and Hazardous Waste in America (1981).
Mr. Pope graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1967. He then spent two years as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Barhi, Bihar, India, where he helped communities and families address the human and environmental impacts of overpopulation."

More on Palin and the environment from the New York Times:

"--Palin's administration disputes conclusions by the federal National Marine Fisheries Service and its science advisers that the beluga whale population is in critical danger. The state argues that 2007 data shows the whale rebounding.

--Palin opposed a state ballot initiative to increase protection of salmon streams from mining operations. It was defeated.

--Palin also opposed a ballot initiative barring the shooting of wolves and bears from aircraft except in biological emergencies. It was also defeated.

Under Palin, the state Board of Game authorized for the first time in 20 years the shooting of wolves by state wildlife officials from helicopters. The order resulted in the controversial shooting this summer of 14 one-month-old wolf pups taken from dens on a remote peninsula 800 miles southwest of Anchorage -- an act that environmentalists claim was illegal."

Obama's Political Masterpiece



" I saw Obama's speech tonight at the Democratic Convention in Denver as a political masterpiece. As I had a chance to say on CNN a few moments ago, it was in many ways less a speech than a symphony. I also sensed that we saw tonight an Obama who is growing into a new, more mature leader — stronger, tougher, harder-hitting."
-David Gergen


Full Video: Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech at Democratic Convention
August 28, 2008



Full Text: Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech at Democratic Convention
August 28, 2008

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest – a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia – I love you so much, and I’m so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.



This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”



Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made “great progress” under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a “mental recession,” and that we’ve become, and I quote, “a nation of whiners.”

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.

For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She’s the one who taught me about hard work. She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she’s watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves – protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.

That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don’t have that chance. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime – by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America’s promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell – but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we’re wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.



That’s not the judgment we need. That won’t keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what – it’s worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn’t work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it’s best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don’t fit the typical pedigree, and I haven’t spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I’ve seen it. Because I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I’ve seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I’ve seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they’d pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I’ve seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.



That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could’ve heard many things. They could’ve heard words of anger and discord. They could’ve been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead – people of every creed and color, from every walk of life – is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

“We cannot walk alone,” the preacher cried. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

"Good Morning Mr. President" - January 20, 2009
"Good Morning Mr. President" - January 20, 2009

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"I Have a Dream" ~ August 28, 1963



Full Text: “I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.
August 28, 1963, Washington DC

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day – this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

King
King
Gregg Chadwick
36"x36"
conte, charcoal, oil and wax on linen
April 4, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Esalen Glow

Esalen Glow
Sunset at the Esalen Institute

This past week I was honored to lead a workshop on creativity with writer Phil Cousineau and writer/musician RB Morris.
The Esalen Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1962 by Stanford alums Michael Murphy and Richard Price as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the "human potential." This world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination has brought to Esalen a steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers.

phil & rb
Late afternoon at Esalen in Big Sur. Taken during a workshop on creativity by Phil Cousineau, RB Morris, and Gregg Chadwick.

Recently Phil Cousineau's new book "Stoking the Creative Fires" has hit the shelves. It is an impassioned volume on creativity that combines myth, story and personal pilgrimages in a primer on the creative life. My painting "Fire Dream" graces the cover.
We used this book as a stepping off point for the workshop. I am hoping in the future to have time for a more thorough journey through myth and art at Esalen. Stay tuned.

Stoking the Creative Fires

Workshop participant Allan Hunt Badiner explains the history of Esalen:
"Esalen takes its name from the Native American tribe, the Esselen, that once lived there. Sitting on a former ceremonial ground, the Esalen property was the site of frequent cross-tribal peace gatherings. Esselen cosmology described Big Sur as a “weaving” center for human culture and drew representatives from tribes, near and far. Today, Esalen draws 10,000 people a year from around the world to participate in a wildly diverse menu of workshops. It brought former Russian President Boris Yeltsin to the West, popularized Rolfing and Gestalt, and nurtured books like The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Esalen created a context for understanding psychedelics, established the healing power of massage, and championed wisdom of the body. Visitors often mention that the land itself and spectacular coastline setting feels almost sacred." Allan's words are not surprising, given the retreat’s lineage of powerful teachers such as Abraham Maslow, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Fritz Perls, Allen Ginsberg, Ida Rolf, Joan Baez, Boris Yeltsin, Philip Glass, Gregory Bateson, Buckminster Fuller and countless others who have visited and taught at Esalen in an effort to discuss, debate and develop revolutionary ideas, transformative practices, and innovative art forms.


Workshop participant Natasha.

More at:
Phil Cousineau
RB Morris
"Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion" by Jeffrey J. Kripal
Esalen at the Edge. From Zen and hot tubs to glasnost, the famed Big Sur retreat has changed our minds, bodies, and ways of looking at the world.
- by workshop participant Allan Hunt Badiner


Esalen

Monday, August 25, 2008

McCain = George III



As the Democratic Convention in Denver begins,Drew Westen in the Huffington Post describes how Obama can effectively attack John McCain by explaining that:

"a vote for McCain is a vote for continuing the failed policies of George W. Bush, policies that have weakened us economically and threatened our national security in a world whose greatest dangers lie in international terrorism (which require coordination with other nations, not condescension toward our allies, refusal to speak to our enemies, and saber rattling when we have no sabers left to rattle.)"

Secondly, "McCain is not the straight-talking maverick who many admired in 2000 but a man whose ambition has gotten the best of him, who learned the wrong lessons from watching himself swift-boated by George W. Bush and Karl Rove--a man who is so desperate to be President that he will say whatever he has to say to convince conservatives he is one of them, say whatever he has to say to convince moderates that he isn't really the person he is telling the far right, and convince himself that if he has to take the low road to the presidency, that's just politics. "

Thirdly," McCain is out of touch with the American people; that he has no idea of the suffering his party and their policies have inflicted on working Americans; that a man who can't remember how many houses he has, whose wife says the only way to get around Arizona is by private jet, and whose closest economic advisor thinks people who lose their jobs or can't keep up with the bills through no fault of their own are just whiners clearly doesn't understand what middle class families are experiencing."

Obama ~ Biden '08

Barack Obama

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chet Edwards, Obama's VP pick?


Chet Edwards

Sources are saying that Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards from Texas could be Obama's choice for VP?
Is this a feint? Biden, Bayh or Webb perhaps? More soon...

Watching the Beijing Olympics, Thinking of Tibet

As the Beijing Olympics nears its finale, I can't help but think about the conflict between the Olympic ideal and the Chinese state sponsored attempts to make China appear good and powerful at all costs. It seems that at least one of the star Chinese gymnasts has not yet reached the needed Olympic competition age of sixteen and has submitted a state-forged passport with an inaccurate date of birth to the International Olympic Committee. And most of all, the question of Tibet hangs over Beijing like the smog that chokes the athletes lungs. It appears that the Chinese government has blocked the Apple i-tunes site for the past week to keep the Chinese people from hearing and purchasing the benefit album Songs for Tibet. It seems that many of the athletes from around the world had downloaded the album in the Olympic village and were listening to what has become a top rated i-tunes download around the world. The album is a benefit for the Art of Peace Foundation.

Through Tibetan Eyes
Gregg Chadwick
Through Tibetan Eyes
72"x96" oil on linen 2008

Before the current Olympics began there were signs of hope that the question of Tibet would be approached peacefully and intelligently by the senior Chinese leadership. Nicholas D. Kristof wrote in his New York Times opinion piece,
An Olive Branch From the Dalai Lama:

"The senior Chinese leadership should respond by expressing serious interest in talks at the presidential or prime ministerial level. In ancient days, the Olympics were a time to suspend conflict. In that spirit, the two sides should get to work to prepare for a visit by the Dalai Lama in November, followed by top-level negotiations aimed at a historic resolution of the Tibet question. The ball is in the Chinese court."


Tibet The Story Of A Tragedy




More at:
Art of Peace Foundation.
An Olive Branch From the Dalai Lama
Team Darfur

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thanks McCain and Scheunamann for the Continuing Georgia Fiasco! Talk About a Foreign Policy Disaster...


(Bela Szandelszky/AP Photo)

Breaking info from the newswires:
"Georgians with their eyes covered sit atop of a Russian armored personnel carrier while being detained by Russian troops in the Black Sea port city of Poti, western Georgia, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. Russian troops entered the port of Poti on Tuesday, to detain people and to loot US military equipment left behind after a joint Georgian, US military exercise. The movements of Russian forces in Georgia raised questions about whether Russia was fulfilling its side of the cease-fire intended to end the short but intense fighting between Georgians, Russians and its allies".

McCain and his foreign policy advisor Scheunamann's dealings with the government of Georgia and the ongoing foreign policy disaster unfolding in the region need to be investigated. This is what we would look forward to under a McCain presidency: blindfolded troops captured and carted off by an emboldened aggressor. Already the Russians are stealing US military equipment. Would US troops be captured and blindfolded next?

James Zogby has more:

"There have been concerns raised that McCain's closeness to Georgia and its president may, in fact, have clouded his judgment. McCain continually refers to the Georgian President as "my friend Misha," and notes that, since the crisis began, they have spoken on the phone several times a day. And, in an emotional address on August 14th, he told a cheering Pennsylvania crowd, "Today we are all Georgians." It has also been revealed that Scheunemann has, until recently, been a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government. His two-man firm has recorded almost a million dollars in receipts from the Georgian government since 2004, with almost $300,000 coming during the very time period when Scheunemann was serving as a paid McCain advisor.

All of this has raised questions about whether or not, as a result of this too-close embrace, Saakashvili had unreasonable expectations of U.S. support, causing him to make a strategic miscalculation in approaching this conflict.

Obama, like McCain, has long-supported Georgia's entry into NATO, and expressed concern about Russian ambitions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Nevertheless, on July 23rd, Obama noted that only a political settlement can resolve the conflicts; and, while he called on Russia to roll back its aggressive actions, also called on the Georgian government to "resist the temptation to be drawn into military conflict."

Zogby ends his article with a telling line:
"The conflict between Russia and Georgia did not begin on August 8th, and it won't end anytime soon. Bluster will not push the Russians back, nor will (nearly empty) threats of retaliation. And, as we learned in Iraq, there's an enormous difference between being tough and certain, and smart and thoughtful. The former makes good sound bites, and leads to chaos.

Given a choice, if the phone rings in the White House at 3 a.m., I'd rather have the smart guy answering the phone and hope the tough guy stays asleep."

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain and Scheunamann and the Georgia Fiasco


Hans Heiner Buhr
"view-old-tbilisi-thief"
digital collage 2007
- image courtesy the artist

As the small country of Georgia continues to pay the price for taking on the Bush administration's seemingly overt dare, "Go poke that big bear in the eye!" - word has gotten out that McCain's chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann was paid "just short of a million dollars" to represent Georgia. On the same day that Scheunemann signed his most recent contract, John McCain had a lengthy conversation with the President of Georgia.

I quote Robert Creamer's insightful article at length below:

"The Georgia conflict has shined a spotlight on McCain's chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann.

Scheunamann was a major organizer of the campaign to get the U.S to invade Iraq. He was a board member of the Project for a New American Century that circulated the now-famous manifesto signed by key Neo Cons that first called for the Iraq invasion. He was a founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. More recently he has been a paid lobbyist for a number of foreign governments including Macedonia, Taiwan and, most importantly, the Republic of Georgia.

According to records from the Justice Department's foreign agents registration office, Scheunamann's two-person firm has received $830,000 from Georgia since 2004. Though Scheunamann now claims to have taken a leave of absence from lobbying, his latest contract, with Georgia's National Security Council, was signed as recently as April 17th. According to the Los Angeles Times, McCain spoke by phone with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili that day and then issued a statement denouncing Russian moves to "undermine Georgian's sovereignty."

The paper also cites lobbying forms filed by Scheunamann's firm Orion indicating that McCain sponsored or co-sponsored four Senate resolutions on behalf of Georgia and other Orion clients: Latvia, Macedonia, Romania and Taiwan.

The poor judgment McCain showed by appointing a man who was serving as a paid foreign agent to be his chief foreign policy adviser is simply breathtaking. It is even more so because of the history of the current conflict.

There is more than appearance of conflict of interests. Before Georgia's President Saakashvili sent Georgian troops to reassert control in the semi-autonomous region of Ossetia, even the US State Department says it repeatedly warned him against precipitous action that might provoke a Russian response. He did it anyway. In other words, the government of the United States and Georgia had different agendas, different interests, and different policies with respect to the Ossetia conflict.

Where were Scheunamann's loyalties? Did he represent the position of the government of the United States, or of his old client Saakashvili. Do the actions and statements of McCain represent his independent judgment of what is in the best interests of the United States, or the views of a top adviser who made just short of a million dollars representing a foreign power?

What's more, if Scheunamann and McCain did encourage Saakashvili to send troops to Ossetia, it once again calls into question their simple strategic judgment. Saakashvili's action has been a disaster for the Georgian government that has lead to the rout of the small Georgian army, and increased the likelihood that he will ultimately be replaced by someone more acceptable to Russia. This is exactly the kind of poor strategic judgment that McCain and Scheunamann used to lead America into the War in Iraq. Americans don't want more of that kind of judgment.

Odds are, the more we learn about the involvement of McCain and Scheunamann in the Georgia fiasco, the more that McCain's foreign policy judgment will be called into question. Many Republicans have prayed for a foreign policy crisis that could refocus voter attention on foreign affairs and away from the domestic economic disaster. Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for."

A note to Hans:
As a citizen of the US, I abhor McCain and Scheunamann's involvement in the current mess in Georgia as I abhor McCain's support for the invasion of Iraq. We are doing our best over here to get a new leader, Obama, that will look at the world from a larger, more intelligent and more nuanced vantage point. I hope you and the other members of the Art Club Caucasus International are well. Take care.


Hans Heiner Buhr
Logo of the Art Club Caucasus International
website at artclubcaucasus.blogspot.com
- image courtesy the artist

"No, its one of our Georgian Elephants, we have them here too..., the so-called Blue Caucasian Dwarf Elephants, living in the area around Kazbegi on altitudes between 1800 and 3000 m."
-Hans Heiner Buhr

Obama on Faith

Barack Obama
Gregg Chadwick
Barack Obama
48"x36" oil on linen 2008

"Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."
-Barack Obama

Frank Schaefer and Adele Stan at the Huffington Post have the best responses I have seen to last night's "give the Presidential candidates a Christian litmus test in Orange County." Frank weighs in, "Obama offers a spiritual vision of life founded on the Sermon On the Mount. It is the freedom of "we." It is the same view of freedom that my Marine son learned in boot camp: that the person standing next to you is more important than you are. That concept of freedom is more in keeping with valuing all human life. It will create a climate more friendly to mothers and children. As I listen to Senator Obama speak, as I see the selfless altruistic energy he has generated in a whole new generation of young people, as I think about the ethical, caring culture he would like to foster with healthcare for all, a revamped and reenergized educational system that includes the arts, history, poetry and all those things that make life worthwhile, as I think about the wars my son's brothers-in-arms are still mired and dying in because of the hubris of the Republicans, as I think about the crying need to restore our standing in the world, as I think about the scandalous way in which the Republicans have manipulated people, including the most sincere Evangelicals, Orthodox and Roman Catholics, to get their votes, while not actually doing anything about the issues they care most about, yes, I am ready to for a change."

Adele Stan was horrified to watch the audience lap up the blood that McCain threw their way:
" But with Warren's claim to a kinder, gentler biblical imperative than is found by elders such as Robertson's, it was profoundly disheartening to see an almost knee-jerk response in favor of unbridled, war-mongering jingoism, advanced by McCain."

More at:
Adele Stan
Frank Schaeffer on Obama, Faith, Choice, and Life

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where Elephants Weep

Where Elephants Weep
Gregg Chadwick
Where Elephants Weep
60"x50" oil on linen 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Thoughts Go Out To Fellow Artist Hans Heiner Buhr in Tbilisi as Georgia Burns


Hans Heiner Buhr
"Big Horse Thief"
125 X 90 cm
mixed media on a collage of Caucasus Maps
- image courtesy the artist

As Russian forces continue to attack Georgia, my thoughts go out to fellow artist Hans Heiner Buhr in Tbilisi and his compatriots.
Follow the events at the official Georgian site: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

- map by the BBC


More at:
Georgia Today
Russia Orders Halt in Georgia as Fighting Continues
A Russian Viewpoint:
A Path to Peace in the Caucasus - Mikhail Gorbachev

Below is a review from Georgia Today written about a recent exhibition by Hans:

"The most striking of the works displayed this past weekend in the exhibition “Horse Thief Sayat Nova Street” by Hans Heiner Buhr at the Baia Gallery is a painted work, called “Big Horse Thief” (125 X 90 cm), set against a collage of Caucasus maps. It portrays a masked gunman on horseback, with a jutting pair of triangular prongs for a nose and mouth. While the oddly conjoined figure of horse and rider gallops away from us, it’s that impossible beaked head — tilted backwards towards the viewer — that startles the eye. Its long twin pincers scissor the air like a switchblade. The pointed nose, explains the artist, is a sign of the permanent outsider, a mark of the harlequin, the pariah. In Georgia, “you can make time jumps. You go to Kakheti and someone kills his neighbor because he’s stolen a sheep.”

"Part spectacle, part Star Wars, this show by Buhr has underground comic-book energy and its simplest graphic images are some of the freshest."
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