Art Under Attack in San Francisco

SFGate: Attacked for art, S.F. gallery to close. Backers rally after violent responses to painting of tortured Iraqis.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein

This is unbelievable. It is especially unbelievable that this would happen here in San Francisco, which is a city known for tolerance and freedom of expression. I sincerely hope that this business owner can find the resolve and support to keep her gallery open. These domestic terrorists that did this to her shop must not be allowed to win their way through violence and fear. They have no respect for American values, cast a barbaric pall over our society, and erode the very essence of freedom in our country.

The furor began on May 16, when Colwell, an East Bay artist, made an addition to his monthlong showing at Haigh’s gallery on Powell Street. Angered by the pictures he saw of Iraqi prisoners being abused, he created a black-and- white painting depicting three hooded and naked men undergoing electric shock torture by American soldiers. Colwell, who took down his paintings Saturday, declined to comment.

Two days after the painting went up, Haigh arrived at her gallery to find broken glass, eggs and trash strewn outside her storefront. Haigh also began receiving the first of about 200 angry voice mails, e-mails and death threats.

A week ago, a man walked into the gallery and spat in Haigh’s face. On Tuesday, Haigh decided to temporarily close the gallery and began to consider giving up on her dream of owning an art gallery. Just two days later, another man knocked on the door of the gallery and then punched Haigh in the face, knocking her out, breaking her nose and causing a concussion.

These are terrorists in our own country, pushing their own agenda through violence, fear, and intimidation.