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Antiwar Art Show

August 5, 2005

This is an outstanding example of creative grassroots communications. The challenge for a writer is how to convey the heart of an art event.

“Antiwar Vietnam veterans inspire art and action”— that’s the aim of an art event that opens Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. The decidedly different art show commemorates a march 35 years ago by Vietnam Veterans Against the War from Morristown, NJ, to Valley Forge, Pa. The show is called Operation Rapid American Withdrawal 1970-2005 Exhibition.

Comparisons with the war in Iraq are encouraged, says Jane Irish, the show’s organizer. “Visual artists have power, and with this exhibition we will use this power as another democratic check and balance,” Irish, an artist who focuses on social issues and political art, said in a news release.

The exhibition is at the Ice Box Project Space, Crane Arts Building, 1400 American Street, Philadelphia. The opening reception is Friday, Sept. 2, at 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The show runs through Sept. 25 as part of the Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

An oral history panel is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3, at 2 p.m., followed by a poetry reading at 4 p.m. The panel includes Tony Velez, a photographer and veteran who recorded the march, other march participants, and filmmaker Jack Ofield. The poetry reading features veteran poets W.D. Ehrhart, Gerald McCarthy and Jan Barry.

A 1970 documentary film of the march, Different Sons: Vietnam Remembered, will be shown as a projection loop during the exhibition. The film was made by Ofield, an Emmy Award winning producer, assisted by the New York Film Industry For Peace.

Sixty-three artists will present new works reflecting the peace march. Among them are 18-22-year-old soldier-aged artists, veterans of the Vietnam War, Philadelphia-based artists and artists outside of Philadelphia. Participants include Ron Abram, Amy Adams, Terry Adkins, Sam Belkowitz, Shannon Bowser, Brian Brotman, Gerard Brown, Charles Burns, Mark Campbell, Steve Donegan, Jessica Doyle, Joy Feasley, Susan Fenton, Matthew Fisher, Sherman Fleming, Don Fox, Will Gabaldon, Sarah Gamble, Arthur Gonzales, Patrick Grugan, Susan Hagen, Carolyn Healy, Mary Henderson, M. Ho, Diane Hricko, Richard Hricko, Alex Hughes, Cathleen Hughes, Jane Irish, Jeanne Jaffe, Christianne Kapps, Juliana Espana Keller, Nick Kripal, Kit Layfield, Tristin Lowe, Gabriel Martinez, Sarah McEneaney, Kait Midgett, Susan Moore, Thomas Morrissey, Joshua Mosley, Jack Ofield, Sharyn O’Mara, Michael O’Reilly, Peter Parker, John Phillips, Tom Porett, Cynthia Porter, Andrew Prayzner, Janet Richard, Sarah Roche, James Rosenthal, Ann Seidman, Mark Shetabi, Larry Spaid, Paul Swenbeck, Ira Upin, Jeremy Vaughn, Tony Velez, Bill Walton, Natalie Weiters, Ben Woodward, Sarah Zwerling.

The work ranges from small drawings to large paintings to photographs to sound and media art. “All kinds of strategies will be used to reflect the original Operation Rapid American Withdrawal: techniques of resistance, movement through landscape, symbolic props, camaraderie and bigotry, introspection and community conversation, remembrance of the dead and soap box speechmaking, celebrity and nostalgia,” said Irish. “The show will draw its power from contemporary artists’ personal re-imagination of the past.”

For further information: www.operationraw.com

Selected Works

Poetry
A tonic spray of poetry, verses that a Vietnam war veteran lives by.
Prose
A pragmatic, common-sense handbook for civic action at the community and international levels.