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In the spring of 1970 for the first time the students had complete control of the student art exhibit which was to be held in the Phips Tennis House. The Art majors felt that the whole exhibit should make political statements about the war in Vietnam and important environmental issues. Obviously, the art itself as an expression of the times would communicate something about the issues confronting us all but the exhibit itself was designed to make some very powerful anti war and pro environmental statements. The original design was roughly as follows: As you entered the path would split and if you took the obvious rout you would wind up back outside. If you took the less likely path you first would wind past a series of dioramas of  animals in urban and industrial settings. When you finaly came into the main hall you would be confronted with a large face of Nixon. You would walk through his mouth, over his tung and find there a large cake in the shape of Vietnam. The cake would have rivers of red coolaid flowing off and you would be invited to fill a cup and have a slice. Large panels arrainged like louvers carried paintings. At the far end to the left was an old door set at an angle in a wall. If you stepped through that door you came into a small theater for experimental film. Next there was a room that was dark and hung with tubes of plastic that you had to feel your way through while surrounded by loud recordings of an actual firefight.

The Kent state shootings happened in the middle of our construction and our working group was divided about whether the show should open or not. Most of us were partisipating in the Woodstock West encampment and wanted to support the nation wide strike. I was something of a folk musician and performed Alice's Restaraunt and Blowin' in the Wind on the little stage set up for speakers and musicians. Some of us wanted the exhibit to open in support of the same issues. Others saw it as a University function that should not go on. A small group continued with the exhibit. Michael McClard began to make the big mask of Nixon. Tico Embury, Pam Butler, David Sumida, Maggie Kaufman kept working. Paintings were hung. The war room was completed. We never got to the stuffed animal dioramas. The film room was set up.

I had been working all night on the exhibit and arrived at the Union in the morning to pick up the necessary cake making materials only to find the Union locked. The police were amassing accross the street getting ready to evict the students. They had formed a line with helmets and guns. I just couldn't believe it! I was exhausted and walked up to one of the officers to ask him not to do this ... did he really think he was going to use that gun. He stuck the shotgun in my gut and said, "You wanna find out!" He was furious. The next cop was a black man. I asked him," What are you doing here. This is our campus ... we pay to be here, we are not hurting anyone! We are inviting conversation around campfires." He said that he didn't want to be there but he had a family to support and this was good overtime pay. I shrugged and asked him to leave us alone an assalt was going to hurt people. At that point the first cop grabbed my arm, accused me of threatning an officer and arrested me. I was thrown into a prisoner bus in tears. I had no identification. I wasn't sure that any one I knew had seen me arrested. I had no idea what would happen.  My girlfriend, Maggie Kaufman, had gone looking for me and found me on the bus. Thankfully she located my ID and gave it to me through the bus window. From that vantage point I watched the police chasing students all over campus. It was crazy. Every now and then they would throw another student or faculty  memberon the bus.

Eventually we were taken out to a prison way out on the prarie. A really desolate place surrounded with a razor wire fence. As I recall the driver had to get out and retrieve the key from a coffee can lowered on a string! We were off loaded into a room with no windows .. even the windows on the doors were painted over. We were then ordered to take off our clothes and to hold them in our hands. One by one we were let into the next room of glaring bright lights and surrounded by cops with all their gear. They gave us an embarassingly complete inspection. We were, thankfully, held in a group cell. Fellow prisoners brought us Bull Durham tobacco and news. We ate at large stainless steel tables facing one way with all the other prisoners. Eventually a young lawyer volunteered to defend us. I think we wrer released in a few days.

the Art exhibit did open eventually to very little fanfair. I will look for photos. This written pretty quickly, just off the top of my head. I hope it is of use.


Thank you!
Sun, 01/27/2013 - 12:33am - by Sheila Schroeder


Your story about the art exhibit was incredible! This sounds like an incredible undertaking and was a real statement at a time when many were questioning the war, and, by accounts, many still were not. If you or any of your comrades have photos I'd love to see them. A giant head of Nixon to walk through...classic!

Thanks again for your story.