Friday, September 10, 2010

radio interview on art exhibit

Click on the words above to hear my interview on the local Madison radio show WORT's 8 o'Clock BUZZ with Jonathon Zarov about my art exhibit titled "veiled ramblings."

On view from August 24–October 10 at the James Watrous Gallery, side-by-side solo exhibitions by William Andersen and Xiaohong Zhang.

The James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
221 State Street, Overture Center for the Arts, Third Floor - Madison, WI  53705
Phone: 608-265-2500 / Contact: Martha Glowacki, co-director

Hours: T/W/Th 11–5:00 pm, F/Sa 11–8:00 pm, Su 1–5:00 pm, M closed


Warden Message Kuwait

The Department of State is issuing this Travel Alert to caution U.S. citizens of the potential for anti-U.S. demonstrations in many countries in response to stated plans by a church in Florida to burn Qur'ans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, in response to media reports of the church's plans. The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high.  We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place.  This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2010.

We also remind you of the continuing threat to U.S. interests and citizens posed by various terrorist groups, as outlined in the Department's Worldwide Caution.

U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website at in order that they can obtain updated information on travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, such as Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as Country Information, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nicholas Kristof on "America's History of Fear"

Op-Ed Columnist

America’s History of Fear

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.
Nicholas D. Kristof
Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque. The starting point isn’t hatred but fear: an alarm among patriots that newcomers don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans.
Followers of these movements against Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese and other immigrants were mostly decent, well-meaning people trying to protect their country. But they were manipulated by demagogues playing upon their fears — the 19th- and 20th-century equivalents of Glenn Beck.
Most Americans stayed on the sidelines during these spasms of bigotry, and only a small number of hoodlums killed or tormented Catholics, Mormons or others. But the assaults were possible because so many middle-of-the-road Americans were ambivalent.
Suspicion of outsiders, of people who behave or worship differently, may be an ingrained element of the human condition, a survival instinct from our cave-man days. But we should also recognize that historically this distrust has led us to burn witches, intern Japanese-Americans, and turn away Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.
Perhaps the closest parallel to today’s hysteria about Islam is the 19th-century fear spread by the Know Nothing movement about “the Catholic menace.” One book warned that Catholicism was “the primary source” of all of America’s misfortunes, and there were whispering campaigns that presidents including Martin Van Buren and William McKinley were secretly working with the pope. Does that sound familiar?
Critics warned that the pope was plotting to snatch the Mississippi Valley and secretly conspiring to overthrow American democracy. “Rome looks with wistful eye to domination of this broad land, a magnificent seat for a sovereign pontiff,” one writer cautioned.
Historically, unreal suspicions were sometimes rooted in genuine and significant differences. Many new Catholic immigrants lacked experience in democracy. Mormons were engaged in polygamy. And today some extremist Muslims do plot to blow up planes, and Islam has real problems to work out about the rights of women. The pattern has been for demagogues to take real abuses and exaggerate them, portraying, for example, the most venal wing of the Catholic Church as representative of all Catholicism — just as fundamentalist Wahabis today are caricatured as more representative of Islam than the incomparably more numerous moderate Muslims of Indonesia (who have elected a woman as president before Americans have).
In the 19th century, fears were stoked by books written by people who supposedly had “escaped” Catholicism. These books luridly recounted orgies between priests and nuns, girls kidnapped and held in secret dungeons, and networks of tunnels at convents to allow priests to rape nuns. One woman claiming to have been a priest’s sex slave wrote a “memoir” asserting that Catholics killed boys and ground them into sausage for sale.
These kinds of stories inflamed a mob of patriots in 1834 to attack an Ursuline convent outside Boston and burn it down.
Similar suspicions have targeted just about every other kind of immigrant. During World War I, rumors spread that German-Americans were poisoning food, and Theodore Roosevelt warned that “Germanized socialists” were “more mischievous than bubonic plague.”
Anti-Semitic screeds regularly warned that Jews were plotting to destroy the United States in one way or another. A 1940 survey found that 17 percent of Americans considered Jews to be a “menace to America.”
Chinese in America were denounced, persecuted and lynched, while the head of a United States government commission publicly urged in 1945 "the extermination of the Japanese in toto." Most shamefully, anti-Asian racism led to the internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.
All that is part of America’s heritage, and typically as each group has assimilated, it has participated in the torment of newer arrivals — as in Father Charles Coughlin’s ferociously anti-Semitic radio broadcasts in the 1930s. Today’s recrudescence is the lies about President Obama’s faith, and the fear-mongering about the proposed Islamic center.
But we have a more glorious tradition intertwined in American history as well, one of tolerance, amity and religious freedom. Each time, this has ultimately prevailed over the Know Nothing impulse.
Americans have called on moderates in Muslim countries to speak out against extremists, to stand up for the tolerance they say they believe in. We should all have the guts do the same at home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

solo exhibits: now - October 10

veiled ramblings William Andersen
contradictorily speaking Xiaohong Zhang

Side-by-side solo exhibitions
Left: William Andersen, Global Brands Kids (Kuwait Series #1), 2010,
oil, ink & acrylic on digital print on canvas, 36 x 26 inches.
Right: Xiaohong Zhang, Red Buddha, 2009, digital printing and paper-cutting, 70 x 80 inches

On view from August 24–October 10 at the James Watrous Gallery, side-by-side solo exhibitions by William Andersen and Xiaohong Zhang.

Milwaukee artist William Andersen's installations are informed by his extensive travel, and explore the impact of globalization, displacement, and cultural hybridization. His previous work focused on the social and economic ramifications of China's emergence as a world power. His exhibition, veiled ramblings, draws upon his recent experiences in the Arabian Peninsula and addresses common misperceptions about the region. Several pieces in this installation were created in collaboration with Iranian artist Maryam Hosseinia, Andersen's colleague at the American University of Kuwait.

Xiaohong Zhang is a first generation Chinese immigrant from Hubei Province who teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. Her exhibition, contradictorily speaking, pairs digital printing with the traditional art of paper-cutting to create large-scale work that is both personal and deeply political. In precise, intricately patterned images, she reflects on the challenges of bridging cultures and raising children in a turbulent and violent world. "Fundamentally," Zhang writes, "I draw creative ideas from my experiences as a first-generation immigrant, artist, professor and mother." Zhang's current pieces focus on China's response to the Tibetan independence movement and the complex relationship between communism and Buddhism.

About the James Watrous Gallery

The James Watrous Gallery is the premier gallery for Wisconsin visual art. A program of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, the James Watrous Gallery presents works by Wisconsin artists, Wisconsin art and craft history, works owned by Wisconsin collectors, and exhibitions that bridge the sciences, arts, and humanities. Our mission is to promote the visual arts in Wisconsin through quality exhibitions and related educational programs. For gallery hours and current exhibitions, please visit or call 608-265-2500.

The James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
221 State Street, Overture Center for the Arts, Third Floor - Madison, WI  53705

Phone: 608-265-2500 / Contact: Martha Glowacki, co-director

Hours: T/W/Th 11–5:00 pm, F/Sa 11–8:00 pm, Su 1–5:00 pm, M closed