Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler 1928-2011

by Gregg Chadwick

Helen Frankenthaler
Mountains and Sea
7' 2 5/8" x 9' 9 1/4" oil on canvas 1952
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

"Fashion and money, fame and power politics have played a part in all art worlds. You've just got to plug away.... I see a revival of the meaning of the word "quality"---a search for truth and beauty in lieu of stock certificates. People are most interested in what's real, what endures."
- Helen Frankenthaler (From a Conversation With Lee Rosenbaum)

Helen Frankenthaler's painting Mountains and Sea opened a painterly universe. She poured, dripped, and floated thinned oil paint directly onto an unprimed canvas, creating a stained surface in which the pigment spread into and throughout the canvas fibers. The painting is mesmerizing, like the open sea is mesmerizing. Color beckons almost like song. As viewers we take the role of Odysseus, some will remain tied to a mast - fighting the beauty and lyricism. Others, myself included, let Helen Frankenthaler's hand lead us into the unknown. 

She will be sorely missed. 

Helen Frankenthaler Painting
From a Series of Photographs by Ernst Haas Taken in 1969

Helen Frankenthaler Amidst Her Art in 1956
Photographer: Gordon Parks for LIFE Magazine

More at:
A Search for Truth and Beauty by Lee Rosenbaum

Helen Frankenthaler dies at 83; abstract painter

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

For the Holidays: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - Trailer #1

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer #1

One Year Left to Read the Book First For Those Who Haven't Had the Chance. Wonderful Adventure.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Casing the Colors: The End of the War in Iraq

by Gregg Chadwick


40"x30" oil on linen
March 2003-December 2011
painting by Gregg Chadwick

Today, with the casing of the colors in Baghdad, another war has ended. My thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones and with the troops who are returning home. A few weeks ago I was on a flight from LAX to Monterey seated near a young soldier who had just returned from Iraq. He was eager to talk and chatted about his specialization in the Army and his plans for the immediate future. A tech job in Silicon Valley beckoned. The men and women coming home from Iraq have given much for our country and have much more to offer our society in the future.

I remember when my father came home from Vietnam. Having fought in Korea as well, this was the end of his second war. Our family reunited overseas delaying my father's reentry into life in the US. There were no parades and because my father stayed in the Corps as an active duty Marine, little seemed to change when we finally flew back to the States and moved into what would be the first in a succession of new billets, new homes, and new schools. Even for warriors, life goes on.

War stories weren't often told in my family. I learned more about my father's tour in Vietnam from Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War than I did from conversations around the dinner table. (My father is an important, though unnamed character in Caputo's book.) As a boy, I knew there were things I wouldn't ever truly understand and gave returning soldiers their private psychological space. As an adult, I understand that we all need to have our stories heard patiently and sympathetically. I have also learned that the fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers of those killed in action care deeply that their sons and daughters are not forgotten.


48"x36" oil on linen 2004
painted by Gregg Chadwick
Collection National Museum of the Marine Corps

During the eight year span of the Iraq War, I have had the honor to connect with the families of two young men who gave their all. United States Marine Corporal Kemaphoom "Ahn" Chanawongse of Waterford, Connecticut was killed in action during operations on the outskirts of An Nasiriyah, Iraq on March 23, 2003. Chanawongse was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. My painting Arlington, which is now part of the collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, was inspired by Ahn's funeral. Chanawongse was a Thai-American Buddhist, so his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery included saffron robed Buddhist monks as well as US Marines in their dress blues.

The painting began as an image of a US Marine in Iraq silhouetted against a gunpowdered sky at dusk. That painting was subsequently worked into and eventually over-painted with the present image when the reports and images in the New York Times of Ahn’s funeral brought back childhood memories of watching “taps” played at dusk during the Evening Parade at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington DC. I met Ahn's courageous and inspiring parents in Washington DC when Arlington was exhibited at the Arts Club of Washington during The One Word Project exhibition which was curated by J.T. Kirkland and ran from August 28th through September 29th, 2007.

Mark Daily

Mark Daily
    "We Carry A New World In Our Hearts"
5"x5" oil on panel 2011
Painting by Gregg Chadwick

Earlier this year, I was asked by curator Sherry Moore to contribute a painting of United States Army 2nd Lieutenant Mark Daily to the Portraits of the Fallen Memorial. This memorial when completed will include portraits of all the service members from California killed during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the start of the project I had the honor to meet Mark's widow, Snejana "Janet" Hristova, at my studio and was inspired by her courage and resilience. She spoke tenderly of Mark and the media attention after his death.

Christopher Hitchens in his moving article on Mark for Vanity Fair described the young Lieutenant's bravery:
"Lieutenant Daily crossed from Kuwait to Iraq in November 2006, where he would be deployed with the "C," or "Comanche," Company of the Second Battalion of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment—General Custer's old outfit—in Mosul. On the 15th of January last, he was on patrol and noticed that the Humvee in front of him was not properly "up-armored" against I.E.D.'s. He insisted on changing places and taking a lead position in his own Humvee, and was shortly afterward hit by an enormous buried mine that packed a charge of some 1,500 pounds of high explosive."
Christopher Hitchens goes on to share a telling portion of a letter that Mark Daily sent home from Iraq to his wife Janet:

"One thing I have learned about myself since I've been out here is that everything I professed to you about what I want for the world and what I am willing to do to achieve it was true. …
My desire to "save the world" is really just an extension of trying to make a world fit for you."

Like Mark I graduated from UCLA. My wife, MarySue Heilemann, is a tenured professor in Nursing at UCLA and teaches on ethics and the philosophy of science. To stir up the latent creativity in her graduate students, MarySue brought in the musician Peter Himmelman to lead a creativity session. As a friend of Peter's and at my wife's request, I attended the session and I ended up writing a song on my experiences painting Mark's portrait. Peter Himmelman added music to the lyrics and the song, Spit and Polish Blue, was finished for Veterans Day.

 Written on the back of this photograph Mark Daily sent home from Mosul, Iraq is the phrase, "We carry a new world in our hearts." I included the phrase as a coda at the end of the song Spit and Polish Blue:

Spit and Polish Blue 
 Lyrics by Gregg Chadwick

Music by Peter Himmelman 

How do I paint a picture of a man I never met?
Your wife brought me images she never wants to forget.
If I had met you, there would be a clue 
-as I looked into your eyes of spit and polish blue.

 I’m sitting in a classroom, the place where you first signed on
The chalk dust still hovers here , everything else is gone.
L.A. was just a start for something new
as you first dressed in green and spit and polish blue. 

How do I paint a picture of a man who gave it all?
And what colors give justice to the way you answered your call?
Mother Mary, can I borrow your hue?
Only lapis could color your eyes of spit and polish blue. 

And the sands outside of Mosul blind your buddy’s eyes.
And the Desert wind carries its own peculiar sighs.
You went first –took the point.

Like words written on a photograph,
The wind it whispers its sacred epitaph
The wind whispers as breath departs,
“We carry a new world in our hearts.”

More at:

Matt Gallagher in the New York Times on Mark Daily

Portraits of the Fallen Project

Info on Peter Himmelman

The author Christopher Hitchens' piece on Mark Daily in Vanity Fair in 2007.

The One Word Project

Take a minute to look back at the moments that brought us to this point, then share a personal message of gratitude with those who have served.
Send your message of thanks
Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it. It's not enough to honor our heroes with words; we must do so with deeds.

That's why we've worked to send 600,000 veterans and family members back to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. That's why one of Michelle's top priorities as First Lady has been to support military families and why she's worked with the private sector to get commitments to create 100,000 jobs for those who've served and their spouses. That's why we worked with Congress to pass a tax credit so that companies have an incentive to hire vets and have taken steps to help veterans translate military experience to the private sector job market.

In America, our commitment to those who fight for our freedom and our ideals doesn't end when our troops take off the uniform.

You can be a part of this effort to honor our heroes.

Help mark this moment. Write a quick note that troops and veterans all over the world will be able to see:
Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Berlin in Rauch Licht (Berlin in Smoke Light)

by Gregg Chadwick

Berlin in Rauch Licht (Berlin in Smoke Light)
Gregg Chadwick
Berlin in Rauch Licht (Berlin in Smoke Light)
24"x18" oil on linen 2011
Private Collection Los Angeles

Berlin embodies the future and at the same time carries the scars of the past. While recently in Berlin my painting Rauch Licht (Berlin in Smoke Light) was inspired by the palpable sense of beauty and the smoke of time seemingly hovering in the air. A soundtrack of Bowie, Lou Reed and U2 almost audibly haunts this mysterious vision. Will light let us break free from this Berlin Noir?

Darlene Love with the E Street Band and the Miami Horns - All Alone On Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!
Darlene Love lead vocals

--- The E Street Band ---
Clarence Clemons tenor sax solo
Danny Federici keyboards
Garry Tallent bass
Steven Van Zandt guitars
Patti Scialfa - backing vocals
Max Weinberg drums

--- The Miami Horns ---
Mark Pender trumpet
Rick Gazda trumpet
Stan Harrison tenor sax
Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg trombone
Eddie Manion baritone sax
Arno Hecht saxophone

Pat Thrall guitars
Mark Alexander piano
Ula Hedwig backing vocals
Edna Wright backing vocals
Zoë Yanakis percussion
Benjamin Newberry chimes

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Ghost in the Human Machine: Tony Bennett's Nude Drawing of Lady Gaga

by Gregg Chadwick

Lady Gaga Poses For Tony Bennett in His Atelier
photo and concept by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

During Lady Gaga's entertaining Thanksgiving special she joked about her brief gig as a life model for singer and visual artist Tony Bennett. Gaga recounted:
"I walked in and said, 'Well, Tony, here we are,' and I dropped my robe and I got into position. I felt shy and thought, 'It's Tony Bennett. Why am I naked?"
Lady Gaga had come face to face with what Kathleen Rooney describes as the “spine-tingling combination of power and vulnerability, submission and dominance” of nude modeling in her
marvelous book Live Nude Girl : My Life As An Object. Rooney's book provides an introspective look at the history and challenges of art modeling from the model's point of view. Rooney's meditative prose leads us to a point of connection between muse and artist.
Why after centuries of images in charcoal, paint, stone and silver print do artists still feel the need to depict the human figure? For me it is our shared connection as sentient, sexual, and spiritual beings. By taking the time to deeply look at and into another person we move closer to finding the ghost in the human machine. At our core we are all naked.

Tony Bennett
Figure Study of Lady Gaga
18"x24" charcoal on paper 2011

 Tony Bennett's nude charcoal drawing of Lady Gaga is up for auction at eBay Celebrity, with proceeds to benefit the two singers' foundations – Tony Bennett's Exploring the Arts and Lady Gaga's Born This Way

The Rose of Time
Gregg Chadwick
The Rose of Time
30"x20" oil on linen 201o
Manifesta Maastricht Gallery, The Netherlands

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Painter of Spanish Life: Manet's Portrait of Madame Brunet

by Gregg Chadwick

Édouard Manet
Portrait of Madame Brunet
52 1/8" x 39 3/8" oil on canvas 1860-1863 (Reworked in 1867)
Recently Purchased by the Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Courtesy Getty Museum

In 1862 in Le Boulevard, a Parisian news sheet which was a sort of precursor to the L.A. Weekly or the Village Voice, the poet Baudelaire wrote a small article entitled Painters and Engravers. This was one of the few times that Baudelaire, who in his essay The Painter of Modern Life called for artists to search for subjects in the rancor and din of the urban street, wrote expressly about the art of his friend Édouard Manet. Baudelaire wrote,"M. Manet is the author of The Spanish Singer, which caused a great sensation in the last Salon. We will see in the next one a number of paintings by him imbued with the flavor of Spain, which leads one to believe that the genius of Spain has fled to France."

With the news that the Getty Museum has purchased Édouard Manet's Portrait of Madame Brunet, art viewers in Los Angeles will be able to answer for themselves: How did Spanish art influence Manet?

Francisco Goya after Diego Velázquez
Portrait of Ferdinand, Cardinal Infante of Spain and Archduke of Austria
etching and drypoint on paper 1778
Courtesy British Museum, London

The composition of Manet's Portrait of Madame Brunet seems to be modeled after Goya's etched version of Vélazquez's Portrait of Ferdinand, Cardinal Infante of Spain and Archduke of Austria. Madame Brunet holds her hands in a position similar to Ferdinand and her dark dress stands out against a light filled landscape in a manner that echoes Vélazquez. Further emphasizing the Spanish influence, the background of Manet's Portrait of Madame Brunet bears a striking resemblance to another Velazquez related work - Philip IV as a Hunter which had been acquired by the Louvre in 1862. At roughly the same time that Manet was painting Madame Brunet he was busy at work on an etching based on this very painting.

Édouard Manet
Portrait of Philip IV after the Workshop of Vélazquez
etching, aquatint, and drypoint on paper circa 1862

Even more striking than his compositional borrowings was Manet's use of oil paint. Manet applied the pigment thickly with spontaneous brushstrokes and flowing form that was inspired by the richness found in the paint-work of Vélazquez. In 1865, Manet visited Spain and reveled in the works of the Spanish masters at the Prado Museum (then known as the Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura).

From Madrid, Manet wrote to Baudelaire, "I've really come to know Vélazquez, and I tell you he is the greatest artist that has ever been." Open brushstrokes full of suggestion allow the viewer to enter imaginatively into Vélazquez's paintings and in a sense finish them. Manet applied this idea to subjects of modern life and created a new way of painting.

Édouard Manet
Portrait of Madame Brunet (Detail)
Courtesy Getty Museum

Édouard Manet
Victorine Meurent
16 7/8" x 17 1/4" oil on canvas circa 1862
Courtesy Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Scott Allan writes in the Getty Museum's blog The Iris, a rich description of Manet's technique in the Portrait of Madame Brunet:
"The signature elements of his original style are blazingly evident: in the brilliant summary execution of the mesmerizing gloves, the subtle wielding of a nuanced range of blacks in the dress, the sharp silhouetting of contours, and in the radical suppression of half-tones and shadows on the pale oval expanse of Mme. Brunet’s strongly lit face."

Perhaps because of the strength of the painting and the lack of nuanced delicacy, the art critic Théodore Duret recounted that, when Madame Brunet first viewed Manet's painting of her she "began crying and left the studio with her husband, never wanting to see the portrait again."

The soft atmosphere found in the painting of Vélazquez is missing. This suppression of delicate halftones coupled with sharp contours took a number of viewers of Manet's work in the 1860's aback. To many the paintings seemed flat, almost like playing-cards. What was Manet up to they wondered?

The immediacy of Manet's subject matter seemed to call for an immediacy of paint handling. Like a Zen clap, Manet's simplified tonal gradations from light to dark emphasized the force of light.

Other influential examples of flattened spacial compositions made their way to Paris. As Manet was reworking his rejected portrait, the 1867 Universal Exposition opened and the artworks, performers and cultural objects in the Japanese pavilion would inspire new directions in the arts.

Édouard Manet
Portrait of Émile Zola
57"x45" oil on canvas 1868

Manet painted a view of the exposition grounds and included a Japanese screen and a woodcut of a Sumo wrestler by the Japanese artist Kuniaki in the background of his Portrait of Emile Zola.  Hanging next to the Kuniaki print in Manet's witty portrait is an engraving after Vélazquez's painting of Bacchus as well as a reproduction of his own Olympia. In another cross-cultural engagement, less than one hundred and fifty years later Japanese artist Takashi Murakami would bring his own superflat paintings to Versailles.

Kawaii- Vacances, Summer Vacation in the Kingdom of the Golden and Untitled Carpet in the Salle des Gardes du Roi at the Chateau de Versailles by Takashi Murakami, via Artinfo

Édouard Manet's painting Portrait of Madame Brunet will go on view at the Getty Museum on December 13, 2011. After writing this piece, it dawned on me that my painting Tokyo Lolita could be a 21st century Ms. Brunet ...

Tokyo Lolita

Gregg Chadwick
Tokyo Lolita
24"x18" oil on linen 2010
Manifesta Maastricht Gallery, Maastricht, The Netherlands

More at:
A French Mona Lisa Comes to L.A.
Getty Acquires Moody Manet

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Day of Remembrance and Hope: World AIDS Day

"So often we think that when we're talking about the AIDS epidemic … we should be focusing mainly on the contributions that people in medicine can make—and we need those contributions…. But what I want to suggest is that we also need artists to enter the conversation, to enter the mix."
 - David Gere, project director for the Art/Global Health Center and an associate professor and World Art and Cultures co-chair.

Today we join as a global community and pay tribute to the millions of lives lost and families affected by HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day. We also pay tribute to the nurses, care givers and doctors who have cared for those afflicted and all those working for a cure.

People light candles in the shape of a red ribbon, the symbol of the AIDS awareness campaign, during a rally to mark World AIDS Day in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009. 

This morning the Washington Post sponsored an online chat with UCLA's Dr. Michael Gottlieb who in 1981 was the first physician to describe the new disease that would become known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). That year Dr. Gottlieb and his UCLA colleagues described the CD-4 cell deficiency associated with HIV.

The chat was incredibly informative about the history of the disease, current research, and future treatments. Dr. Gottlieb took great care in clearing up misunderstandings. It is well worth the time to scroll through the chat. Please visit the Washington Post for the complete feature
I am posting highlights below for quick reference.:

Dr. Michael Gottlieb

Good morning. This is Michael Gottlieb in Los Angeles on this World AIDS Day. I appreciate your interest in HIV/AIDS and am looking forward to your questions.

Who was patient "ZERO?"

Good question. Patient "Zero" was a patient in Randy Shilts book. Not really the first patient. He was an early case who may have spread HIV to a number of others. Part of the LA-Orange County cluster investigated and reported by CDC in the early days.

Is the transmission of the virus from female to males rare?

Not rare. Less common than male to female in developed countries. Very common in Africa and resource poor countrues.

How much confidence did you have during the first few months of seeing the initial patients that the illness was not being passed through casual contact or proximity? THANKS, Paul

There was some worry in the first days, weeks and months and we did take some chances. But it quickly became clear that the transmission pattern was the same as type B hepatitis which is spread in well defined, non-casual ways. One good thing to happen from the HIV epidemic is universal precautions followed by all health workers.

How have public attitudes and opinions toward the disease affected your work over the decades, and how has that changed? Have there any setbacks or difficulties in research regarding treatment of the disease? Likewise, what improvements have there been as the stigma over the disease shifts?

Photo: Rock Hudson in 1961. Credit: Leo Fuchs, courtesy of the John Kobal Foundation

Things were very difficult in the first few years. The public and press ignored the first several thousand cases and woke up after Rock Hudson. Then there was fear and rejection. Our President and world leaders did not speak about AIDS. Things have improved slowly but there is still stigma. I dont know too many patients who feel comfortable disclosing their status to family and employers for fear of repercussions.

It was rumored that AIDS had its origins in monkeys. Truth or Rumor? What is the story?

It's not just rumor but a fact that HIV originated in chimpanzees in Africa. There is elegant science from Prof. Beatrice Hahn at the University of Alabama that documents this. The virus SIC cpoz is the ancestor of HIV and proabably crossed over when hunters butchered chimps for food and were exposed to blood.

What do you believe will be the method by which HIV is cured and what is required to achieve it? Thanks.

There are two strategies for cure. One is eradication, which is difficult because the virus enters a state of latency in very long-lived cells where it is integrated into the chromosome of the host. The drugs we have today don't touch that reservoir. The other strategy is "functional" cure where the persons own immune system is improved to better keep the virus under wraps. Kind of link what happens with some cancer cures where the tumor is in remission under the influence of the immune system.

How close is gene therapy for this disease?

There are studies in progress which can be found at the website I don't think that widespread cost effective application of this in the epidemic is just around the corner. People should be encouraged to participate in trials though.

Hi there Dr. Gottleib. I recognized you and your work from the Frontline Television Series about HIV and AIDS. Currently, I am in the process of applying to medical schools and your experiences with HIV/AIDS have inspired me pursue a career in infectious diseases. My questions: 1. What emotions and thoughts crossed in your head as you began to realize how big a pandemic HIV/AIDS was? 2. Do you feel that cancer research has taken precedence over HIV/AIDS research? 3. What do you think are the major obstacles to annihilating HIV from the world? Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Sincerely, Andrew Sou

My first reaction was amazement that in medicine there was something new and dramatic. I felt very badly for the first patients who were very ill and we were not able to tell them what they had or what to do about it. I became angry later when society at large did not seem to care. At the start it never dawned on me that this was the start of a global pandemic that would kill tens of millions.

Can you predict that the day will come when an actual "cure" will be found for AIDS??

Sorry. My crystal ball is not working very well. In 2001 I predicted an HIV vaccine by 2010 and was reminded of that earlier this year by reporters. No more predictions.

How often should one be tested for HIV?

It all depends on what you are doing sexually. If you are having multiple partners, not practicing safer sex, having anonymous sex, or having sex with someone who is HIV+ you should get frequent tests, maybe twice a year. But a better idea is to reduce the number of partners and know your partners HIV status, and practice safer sex, ie condoms.

HIV is stigmatizing and people with HIV discriminated against. I increasingly see language at state/federal level refer to people living with HIV/AIDS as 'HIV infected'. Does an emphasis on viral load suppression as a way of decreasing 'infectiousness' increase stigma?

I don't particularly like the language HIV-infected. But getting the viral load undetectable is the new gold standard for success in treatment and I view it as a step toward people feeling better about themselves.

I have heard that the US Military has blood samples from 1950's they retained from GI's that had HIV. Is there or has evidence been found that HIV/AIDS/ARC/GRIDS was in US before 1980's? I have a friend whom had active AIDS Complications (GRIDS Diagnosis due to PCP and with T-Cells below 100) in 1982. Person had been in literally World Class Athletic Shape in 1980, so seems person had to get HIV much prior to 1980 with HIV taking so long to become AIDS; especially when it was a low active HIV Infection. Blessings and Warmest Regards....

HIV was in the US blood supply (rare instances) as early as 1977. It may have been in North America as early as the late '60s. So the patients like your friend and my first patients may have been infected in the late '70s and it took 3-4 years to progress to an AIDS diagnosis and be noticed.

With 22.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa HIV+, high prevalence rates among women and especially girls, high numbers of people unable to access ARVs, millions of orphans, and more, do you think it is realistic to speak of zero's? I have a very hard time with this theme. Susanna Grannis West Townshend, VT

Maybe not zero's, but we can achieve dramatic reduction in numbers. While a formidable problem, HIV in Africa should not be thought hopeless. Secretary of State Clinton spoke about an AIDS-free generation in November and that can be achieved through theknow-how that we already have. Prevention of mother to child transmission, voluntary male circumcision, and providing treatment, which reduces the risk of transmission. We just need to make it more available and this is threatened by proposed cuts to the US and other countries cuts to their committments to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. I hope that the Administration will reconsider.

Did you steal the research on HIV from the French?

No. All I did was report the first cases and describe the syndrome, not the isolation of the virus. Thanks for the opportunity to clear that up.

WORLD AIDS DAY - 12/1/2011
Dr. Gottlieb, How far away is the medical world to see a prevention/cure for HIV/AIDS? -Michael in San Francisco, CA

The best route to prevention is a vaccine and that research has been frustrating. That deserves a very high priority for funding and many scientists are working on it full time.

There are some promising approaches in the works.

Cure is more difficult. The Berlin patient appears cured but treatment was radical, life-threatening and expensive, not feasible for the masses. Patients should not think it is right around the corner. Suppression of the viral replication with ARV's taken religiously is the best approach despite its obviuous problems of side effects, cost, etc.

AIDS appeared about the time that the religious right was rising to prominence, and that group used the disease as proof of its hateful idea that homosexuality and gays are a threat to society. Back then I was very pessimistic about the future of gays in American society - I had expected all sorts of limits on their freedoms "for the sake of public health." Not only did that bleak future fail to materialize, gays and lesbians have actually made more gains toward full equality. Why do you think that happened? Did the religious right's rhetoric have the effect of galvanizing gay activists?

Keith Haring
Silence = Death 1989

I agree that it did not materialize although it was scary for awhile in the late '80s with LaRouche and others proposing draconian measures. I think what did happen speaks to the strength of our system in protecting the rights of minorities.

It is a good thing that activists were able to move the research agenda forward working through legislators and by some civil disobedience as with ACT-UP. The community of activists played a huge role in producing the gains in treatent we have today. And Elizabeth Glaser whose own kids were affected made progress happen for children with HIVand for prevention of mother to child transmission. Her foundation EGPAF carries on that work today in Africa and other resource poor settings.

If one wishes to get pregnant and one partner has AIDS, was is the risk of the disease being transferred to other partner?

This can be done. There are clinics who will "wash" the male's semen clean of HIV and then do in vitro fertilization.

I have several patients in my practice who did that and have healthy kids and an uninfected mom.

Dr. Gottlieb, seeing you on this chat is so exciting (coming from someone who read "And The Band Played On" from cover to cover and then immediately started over). Thanks for doing it. In the book, Shilts used startling imagery to convey the idea that AIDS was brought to the US during the bicentennial celebration in NYC in 1976. Is this still an accurate hypothesis, or has it been discredited?

I loved that book, but Randy did take some poetic license to make the story nmore dramatic. Maybe patient zero and the bicentennial are examples of this. I just don't think there is any data to support but did make a great story.

Hello Dr. Gottlieb. Thanks you for your work. Do you feel that if the Reagan Admin had not failed to fund and address the early days of this epidemic we would be in an even better place today? Do you tink teh stigma against HIV+ people throughout the world is as big if not a bigger hampering to progress in defeating this virus?

I do think that many of the 700,000 who died here and the 1.3 million in the US now living with HIV might have been spared if their had been a clear message coming from the highest levels of the federal government from the get-go. But Reagan's advisors were very conservative and not about to have anything to do with a disease that had a homosexual or drug use association. Stigma remains a major force today in every society where HIV is present. For a while we saw HIV+ characters on TV presented sypathetically but that and media coverage in general has faded here as there is a sense that the crisis is past.

Does the HIV virus mutate quickly (like a cold or influenza virus) or slowly? Is that one of the challenges in creating a vaccine against HIV/AIDS?

That is one problem but there are others such as the way HIV hides some of its vital structures from the immune system until after it infects a cell.

My boyfriend disclosed to me that he's HIV+ and he did so before we had sexual relations. How cautious should I be? We are both gay men... I don't stigmatize him, but I want our intimacy to be as normal and as safe as possible.

Disclosing is the right thing to do. The next question is whether he is on medicatiion and has an undetectable viral load, takes his medicine, and does not do drugs like crystal that could affect his adherence. Sex is safer if the viral load is undetectable but no one can guarantee that it is totally safe and that is why the use of condoms is still recommended.

Magic Johnson has announced he's cured of HIV/AIDS -- wonderful news! What can immunology and virology learn from his case, and those few others where patients appear to have made a full recovery?

I don't think he has announced anything of the sort. I saw him interviewed the other night on CNN where he said that he was taking medicine twice a day to suppress his HIV.

Dr. Gottlieb, While many people blame The Reagan Administration and homosexual stimga, isn't it true that early research was impeded in part by the medical community by the National Institutes of Health, a prominent institute in Paris and the medical agendas of the doctors who wanted to be credited with isolating the disease?

I don't think so. Scientists at NIH worked hard on AIDS from the get-go and the NIH under the incredible leadership of Dr. Anthony Fauci has produced many of the gains we have today in treatment and prevention.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
NIAID Director

Some whom had AIDS have regained high T-cell numbers; are the New T-cells the same, better or worse in fighting infections....

Good question. Actually doubt that they are functional and as diverse as T cells in people who are not HIV+. But today T cell number is less important than having the viral load undetectable. There are some patients with undetectable who have CD-4 counts less than 200. They do well clinically but we all would be more comfortable if their counts were higher and strategies to raise then are being studied.

Does medical marijuana have any use for AIDS patients?


Does not affect T cell counts or viral load in my experience. Some patients are helped with their neuropathy (nerve pain) from previous toxic meds or with sleep and anxiety.

When AIDS was identified and reserach worked backwards, did the earliest AIDS patients appear to be concentrated in Manhattan, LA, or from where?

Earliest patients were in large cities. NY, LA, SF, Houston and Miami.

Which do you think is more likely to be developed first: a cure for HIV infection or a vaccination to prevent it? I am a young gay man in Washington DC and despite the fact that I always use protection, I am petrified by the knowledge that HIV infection rates here are so high.

There is also the emerging area of PREP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, where a young man can take an antiviral to prevent establishment of HIV if he is exposed. Best advice is careful selection of partners and if the partner is HIV+ that he be undetectable and practicing safe sex. But ask an expert about PREP or keep following that story.

There are many theories ranging from cross-contamination of blood supply while searching for Polio vaccine to eating monkey. What do you believe is the origin of AIDS and do you see promising breakthroughs in CCR5 gene mutation being something that can be pilled for easy access to the poor?

I don't buy the polio story. Yes, exposure to the blood of chimps probably explains the crossover to the human species.

More widepread use of needles (re-used) in Africa may have played a role in transmission.

Gotta go. Thanks for chatting.

U.S. President Barack Obama greets singer Bono after making remarks at a World AIDS Day event hosted by the ONE Campaign and (RED) at George Washington University on December 1, 2011. 
UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

More at:
Michael Gottlieb's Homepage
Art and AIDS
World AIDS Day 2011 in Washington DC

Zach Wahls Stands Up for His Family

In this moving, much watch video, shot in February 2011, Zach Wahls - a 19-year-old University of Iowa student - addresses a public forum on House Joint Resolution 6 in the Iowa House of Representatives. Wahls has two mothers, and came to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 which would end civil unions in Iowa.

The fight to to keep marriage equality continues in Iowa and across the country!

Above is Talking With's interview with Mr. Wahls in which Zach speaks about what it was like growing up with two mothers, what led him to decide to go and speak before the House of Representatives, how his life has changed after this speech thrust him into the public eye, and what other young people can do to fight for equality and speak out against intolerance.

Thanks to Talking With for the comment and link!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Film on the Life of Burmese Activist Aung San Suu Kyi Opens This Week in Los Angeles

by Gregg Chadwick

The Lady, a new film by director Luc Besson inspired by the life of Burma's courageous Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband Michael Aris, opens for a limited release this week at Laemmle's Music Hall Theatre in Beverly Hills. This engagement will run from December 2 - December 8, 2011.

The film stars Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi and David Thewlis as her husband Michael Aris.

The Los Angeles Times explains that the film is "a timely political drama" about the volatile political events in Burma as well as "a love story about the uncommon bond that existed between Suu Kyi and her late husband, Michael Aris ... an Oxford University scholar and Asian specialist, Aris took charge of raising the couple's two sons in England while his wife was held captive in her homeland, and he worked tirelessly to raise Western awareness of his wife's fight for democracy."

The Lady was shot mainly in Thailand using Burmese refugees as extras. In a further bid for artistic authenticity, director Luc Beeson used footage furtively shot in Burma and then bravely smuggled out. Some of this footage was shot by Besson himself. He explained to the French media that,"I filmed 17 hours of rushes, sometimes with a soldier three meters away." The film's actors were then integrated into the Burmese scenes with the use of Chroma Key or Green Screen technology.

Photo: Cast members Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis at the premiere of "The Lady" at the AFI film festival. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images

For The Lady, Shepard Fairy was asked to repurpose his benefit poster Freedom to Lead which portrays Aung San Suu Kyi. In the film poster actress Michelle Yeoh portrays the Burmese activist.

Shepard Fairey
Freedom to Lead
(Portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi)

”In a world in which we all too often focus on differences, Aung San Suu Kyi is a unifying figure that people of all political persuasions can work to support. Shepard’s image encapsulates that very point beautifully. The Burmese people have appealed for our help – let’s give it to them.”
 - Jeremy Woodrum, director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma

More at:

U.S. Campaign for Burma

Road to Mandalay
Gregg Chadwick
Road to Mandalay
40"x30" oil on linen 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Miley Cyrus Releases Video in Support of the #Occupy Movement

by Gregg Chadwick

In this Nov. 18 photo, UC Davis officer John Pike uses pepper spray on unarmed and non-threatening protesters.
(AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File)

Miley Cyrus Releases Video in Support of the #Occupy Movement:

The clip pairs a remix of Cyrus' 2010 song Liberty Walk with footage from the global #Occupy protests. The video begins with an overlay indicating that the clip is "dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in." Cyrus' video features powerful images of police crack downs on citizens taking a stand against economic inequity wedded to an infectious beat. Rolling Stone writes,"It's a bold move for the singer – while most of the artists who have thrown their support behind Occupy Wall Street are pretty much the usual lefty rocker suspects, Cyrus is reaching out to an audience who are likely to be either apolitical or outright hostile to her message."

As an artist, I know well the risks involved in taking political stands that might discomfort your audience. I am a fierce advocate for social justice and I believe in the sanctity of all life. I have lost sales and clients because of my activism, but life for me is much more than my bank account or social standing. With these thoughts in mind, I applaud Miley Cyrus' gutsy move and hope that more Americans will be emboldened to take a stand against the growing economic inequality in the United States.

Miley Cyrus' video also calls attention to the growing militarization of our civilian police forces. I agree with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper "that the current epidemic of police brutality is a reflection of the militarization of our urban police forces, the result of years of the "war on drugs" and the "war on terror."

UC Davis professor Bob Ostertag writes,"These issues go to the core of what democracy means. We have a major economic crisis in this country that was brought on by the greedy and irresponsible behavior of big banks. No banker has been arrested, and certainly none have been pepper sprayed. Arrests and chemical assault is for those trying to defend their homes, their jobs, and their schools. These are not trivial matters. This is a moment to stand up and be counted. I am proud to teach at a university where students have done so."

More at:
Miley Cyrus Takes Her Party In The USA To Occupy Wall Street

Miley Cyrus
Supports Occupy Wall Street

Militarization Of Campus Police