Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Until recently, Lori Haigh had been the owner of Capobianco Gallery, located on San Francisco's Powell Street. Ms. Haigh was faced with two weeks of escalating vandalism outside the gallery, verbal abuse and hate messages in her e-mail. She had been singled out for this hate campaign because of a painting on display: The Abuse, by Guy Colwell, which shows 3 hooded prisoners, hooked up to wires, being tormented by American soldiers.

Ryan Kim, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle, has described the unfolding events:

"Two days after the painting went up, Haigh arrived at her gallery to find broken glass, eggs and trash strewn outside her storefront."

[At another time], "a man walked into the gallery and spat in Haigh's face."

Haigh contemplated giving up the gallery that had been her dream for so long; and on a Tuesday she shut down the place in order to take time to think things over.

"Just two days later, another man knocked on the door of the gallery and punched Haigh in the face, knocking her out, breaking her nose and causing a concussion."

" "I'm disheartened and disappointed," said Haigh, "I don't want to have a gallery if I can't show artists like Guy Colwell"."

Fenimore Cooper's Daily covered the closing of the Capobianco. "A U-haul truck was loaded with the gallery's artwork, including Guy Colwell's, whose painting of American soldiers abusing prisoners is the eye of this hurricane"..."It was heartening to see all the people show up to support the owner Lori Haigh"..."The sidewalk was overflowing with supporters. A gentleman spoke to everyone"..."After the impromptu speech, Ms. Haigh herself came out the front door. Her nose was bandaged; she seemed dazed."

"Ms. Haigh made no speech, merely worked her way through the crowd and was whisked off in a car. Everyone applauded for her courage."

This kind of bitter attack against artists, or those who sponsor art, should raise the antenna of every thoughtful person. Journalist David Neiwert calls this kind of assault proto-fascist thuggery.

Simone Weil has written these thoughts on evil:

"Evil is license and that is why it is monotonous: everything is
drawn from ourselves."

"We are obliged to imitate the act of creation, and there are two
possible imitations--the one real and the other apparent--preserving
and destroying.
There is no trace of "I" in the act of preserving. There is in that
of destroying. The "I" leaves its mark on the world as it destroys."

"A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which
we bear in ourselves. That is why we are inclined to commit such acts
as a way of deliverance." (Gravity & Grace, p. 119, 123)

This appeared in J.K. Dineen's article of June 3, 2004, in The San Francisco Examiner:

"In a related development, the owner of another North Beach art gallery--Live Worms Gallery on Grant Avenue--said someone has made a veiled threat against his gallery as well. Owner Kevin Brown said a man walked into his gallery and engaged him in debate about the Capobianco attacks and the Iraq war in general. On his way out, he said, "you're next", according to Brown."

The Abuse by Guy Colwell

Sources via Orcinus


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