Friday, February 29, 2008


A BERLIN GALLERY has temporarily closed an exhibition of satirical works by a group of Danish artists after six Muslim youths threatened violence unless one of the posters depicting the Kaaba shrine in Mecca was removed, it said on Thursday.

The Galerie Nord in central Berlin said it had closed its "Zionist Occupied Government" show of works by Surrend, a group of artists who say they poke fun at powerful people and ideological conflicts. Four days after the exhibition opened, a group of angry Muslims stormed into the gallery, shouting demands that one of the 21 posters should be removed, said the gallery.

"They were very aggressive and shouted at an employee that the poster should be taken down otherwise they would throw stones and use violence," the gallery's artistic director Ralf Hartmann told Reuters. The Muslims objected to a depiction of the Kaaba—the ancient shrine in Mecca's Grand Mosque which Muslims face to say their prayers—which gave a "bitingly satirical commentary against radicalism," said the gallery in a statement.

To his credit, Hartmann has said the gallery was working with German authorities to improve security and he hoped to re-open the show as soon as possible.

"It would be unacceptable if individual social groups were in a position to exercise censorship over art and the freedom of expression," said the gallery in a statement.

That's very sad news. It's about time some Western artists stepped up to the plate on this issue. This is a very serious issue, like most of them raised here at Jihad Watch, and since I am in the arts myself, a humble painter in Washington, DC, I know that few artists are tackling the Islamic problem with anything more than total silence.

In fact, just the opposite position rules. 95% of the art being created today in this most political of cities, and I speak from the underground art movement, is frivolous and redundant, lost in fairy tales and harmless charm, and anything remotely "controversial" and it's not anymore because how many times can Christianity or homophobia or the president be attacked in the generic way that artists depict their hyperventilated disgust with religion, sexual mores, or politics, and it still be new, iconoclastic, or controversial? But with all the world in flames and blood, hovering at the brink of financial crisis, most of the "ruthless honesty" work is anti-American at worst, anti-war (lofty) at best, and nothing is ever presented that even hints of global incrimination due the jihadists and their copious allies in shepherd's clothing.

But what can be expected otherwise? The art world, unlike the more recently abducted halls of lower and higher education, has long been the high-browed bastion of the liberal cognoscente, and today's system of wine-tasting galleries and its stiltifying air of mass dementia is now vigorously geared to the Left.

Scandal is often the fast track in the whirl to "make" an artist, but history probably proves that this model holds only if breaking "preferred" molds.

Let's hope Berlin doesn't bend knee to this Islamic thuggery. It will only encourage more outrage. Don't we all deserve better than this?

Monday, February 25, 2008


I. February

The season and the song are gone,
a witness in the window despairs,
rocks in her shoes, quotations, the blues...
counting by odd numbers, the wild hairs.

Missing the exuberance of biting Massachusetts chill,
boots in bright snow, mortgage at the nape of the hill.

Ours was a quick visit. Driving into icy nights,
and ink-stained maps, stowing away in New York,
embracing the inn, next morning's sun.

Back into wintry gears of the renegade,
we made our way into the lands of former textile glory,
past Great Barrington, a picture perfect town
no Hollywood set could capture, past
myths and old rumors of Alice's Restaurant
pitched a few miles in low county Stockbridge.

Snowline and map legends urged us forward,
up beyond the old brittle city of Pittsfield,
rusty industrial center of an old patriotic land
still wiping the nostrils of a certain strain
of American brave named the Berkshires.

Money had been here, and money was still
a welcomed citizen, born of mountains and streams,
horns of plenty, the rugged spirit, the artful eye.

It was obvious as we pulled into South Adams,
and a few miles further into Adams proper
that south county had given way to its poor
relations, and the songs of old mills now silent.

But bold Yankee country to this bleak southerner
was more than a romantic notion and a geographic
marvel bejeweled in the frosty hands of nature...

That those two words, Yankee and Southerner,
could still make themselves viscerally known,
not as antiquated charms in the haze of memory,
but as real challenges in the cost of living debates
patent services soon revealed one wink at a time.

II. North Adams

(to be continued)