Risk, Reward, and Republicanism

I laced my work worn boots, tightening them more firmly than usual against my ankles and shins for one reason: in case I needed to run. I stood and walked to my dorm bathroom, looked myself in the mirror, and pulled my red hat below my eyes. That will hide my identity well, I thought, but my Ronald Reagan shirt will be a dead giveaway. I decided to throw on a jacket, and let my Republican pride show when I was safely inside. I could hear the news anchor in the background on my laptop. “Students have gathered to protest the speech of Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos. All is peaceful thus far, but the crowd seems to be picking up…” I shut the door and went on my way.

When I arrived at Sproul Plaza (the main UC Berkeley quad), there were hundreds of picketers and protesters. They held a variety of signs with messages that varied from peace symbols and doves to reading “Fascist Pigs Bleed.” I kept my jacket zipped and my head down. I got around the perimeter of the crowd to the entry point where I was volunteering as a member of the Berkeley College Republicans to help run the event. Barricades and armed officers soon stood in my way. I informed them I was a member of the Berkeley College Republicans, and I was ushered in. Pieter Sittler and Troy Worden, two integral members of the club, met me in front of Pauley Ballroom. We gathered outside and tried to communicate via text to the other volunteers, as to where to meet (at the barricade).

Moments later, two officers in heavy gear rushed Troy, Pieter, and me inside the building. As the glass doors of the building closed, two consecutive bangs of M80 fireworks rang out from where I had just been standing. We were under attack by an army of anarchists dressed in black bloc garb. Rocks and pieces of bricks began to hit the glass behind us. Another batch of fireworks were thrown toward the glass doors. Officers instantly moved us behind a stone portion of the wall, and covered us until we were upstairs as the police began to fall back into the building and the anarchists tore down the barriers.

I was now locked on the second floor of Pauley Ballroom with my fellow club members. We peered out from the curtains and witnessed a violent mob laying siege to our school, while members of the student body played music and danced while holding “nazi scum die” signs.

Once the cops found an opening on the west side of the building where they could secure an exit point for the Berkeley College Republicans, they opened the door and wished us luck. We descended the stairs, and became troops behind enemy lines. Cries rang out “You’re racists, Berkeley College Republicans!” with a medley of curses and expletives mixed in. We were identified, and instantly split up to avoid the mob.

My name is Bradley Devlin, and over the past few months, it has been my pleasure to serve as Secretary on the executive board of the Berkeley College Republicans. I study political economy and I’m still the kid with a crazy dream: one day, I want to become President.

When I arrived in the hyper-liberal bubble that is Berkeley and the Bay Area, I understood that my political beliefs would be intellectually challenged daily. When I wore my Republican Party shirt for the first time on campus, and was called a “racist” and a “bigot” without any sort of political discourse or conversation by two individuals, I knew that the attitude fueling some of my colleagues was more malicious than I once thought.

On the night of November 8th, the surprise election of Donald J. Trump proved political pundits across the homeland wrong. Hysteria swept across Berkeley. The next day, classes were canceled in “mourning,” and candlelight vigils were held for “the death of America.” And the political persecution became more abrasive and outright.

November 8th marked an uptick in violence against me, my friends, and other students who held that same political beliefs. It built and built until it escalated even further the night of February 1, 2017, infamously now known as the night of the Berkeley Riots. From then on, members of the Berkeley College Republicans were targeted via social media, on campus, in classes, and on the streets of Berkeley. Being spit on, flipped off, cursed at, and having our private property destroyed is something that has become commonplace.

All of that being said, you must be wondering what on earth could we possibly be doing to invite and encourage this vindictive anger upon us? And who, if anyone, would want to be a part of the Berkeley College Republicans, if all this is true?

The Berkeley College Republicans, at its core, is a group of conservative-minded individuals who represent an array of viewpoints across a broad spectrum of conservatism. From individuals that identify from moderates to libertarians, and some classical liberals, too, the Berkeley College Republicans is the largest political organization on campus with over 1,100 individuals on our mailing list.

Because the hyper-liberal groupthink that occurs in every lecture hall, bar, coffee house, and classroom is so vehement and consistent, it is always refreshing to find a community that reinforces and challenges your political views. Finding a forum for debate and discourse that doesn’t involve a Graduate Student Instructor that may become vehemently biased against you if you air your political views, causing your grade to suffer, is rather refreshing.

Let me be clear, we are not a safe space for conservative students; sometimes we do everything but agree on the actions of Trump or Republican leadership or foreign policy in our discussions. We act as one of the only truly functioning learning environments on campus, and this platform for discourse brings us closer to understanding each others’ views.

No, we aren’t just a room full of trust-fund babies from Southern California. We are a dynamic group of individuals that come from a variety of backgrounds that have created diversity in thought within the club, while reinforcing the importance of Western values such as individual liberties and freedom. From Indiana to India, and from Florida to Russia, our members sing the praises of the United States and the vision of a free people every single day. We work together to brainstorm on how to encourage peers and politicians to join the wave of conservatism that has been sweeping the nation since 2010.

Because we are able to have these discussions, painted in different shades of Republican Red, about the economy, or military, or liberties and the Constitution, we are able to better understand the members of our club and attempt to bring speakers and sponsor events and social events that will please the club and appeal those who thirst to be challenged intellectually.

The Milo Yiannopoulos event was one of the keynote events the Berkeley College Republicans had planned to please its own members, and to intellectually engage with others. As a political satirist and self-proclaimed internet troll, Milo Yiannopoulos is a public figure that retains some controversial views, which would have ensured an entertaining night. Mr. Yiannopoulos is not fully representative of any single member of our club because our members believe in an American society that has blessed them plentifully in allowing them to pursue their own agency. Because of that sense of agency, the members of Berkeley College Republicans do not feel threatened, nor do we cry to the administration and plead professors to draft a letter discouraging an event on the account of the never before legally defined “hate speech,” when Justice Sotomayor, Vicente Fox, Bernie Sanders, or any other liberal speaker comes to speak at campus.

When we invite a figure like Milo Yiannopoulos to come speak on campus, Berkeley College Republicans attend, listen, ask questions, and fiercely debate. Even when the Communist party of the United States (with anarchists in tow) hold a speaker event, we attend.

The intense leftists on campus perpetrate all the previously mentioned tantrums on the checklist. Professors and students, including forces within the administration, put pressure on the administration to minimize the Berkeley College Republicans clout on campus by creating arbitrary hoops we have to jump through every time we want to do something on campus. This has led to a consistent violation of the Berkeley College Republicans’ constitutional right to free speech, assembly, and access to these facilities, without hesitation, by the University of California Berkeley administration. I might also mention that three speakers last spring semester were canceled by the University, and there is a pending lawsuit because these public facilities would otherwise be available if not for our political beliefs.

The abuses are many, but the price of procuring freedom will always be a steep and difficult mountain to climb, but I think I can say for the rest of my friends, that we will not waiver. In the “cradle of free speech,” we pursue a freer collegiate experience not only for ourselves, but for those who may experience the same kind of persecution in the future, whether liberal or conservative. We intend to continue the progress the leaders of the free speech movement procured for us in the sixties.

Decades have passed and the fight rages on, but it is time for a new generation to pick up the torch and fight for liberty with the same passion. We aim to put a stop to the politically-based virtue signaling that is happening in hyper-liberal, public universities year round and challenge the bureaucrats that have made a mint sitting atop once cherished places of higher education, and diluting them into impotent institutions.

When they pick up bricks, we will pick up pens, write and litigate our way to freedom. We will gain the upper hand through faith that the values once cherished by these institutions will prevail, because America has prevailed and endured for almost 250 years.

In the coming months, this column will chronicle our fight from the points of view of several of our members. They will provide analysis and anecdotal experience on the current political atmosphere as a conservative student enrolled in UC Berkeley. As they recount their stories, keep in mind these personal attacks, threats, and events aren’t random or special and extraordinary circumstance. These vulgar and malicious attacks are commonplace, to the extent that we are constantly kicked out of Facebook groups and maligned by our Berkeley peers when our political identity is ousted. I sincerely hope this column serves as an educational opportunity for the readers to understand the plight of conservative students, not just in Berkeley, but throughout the country, who are treated the same way.

May this provide a platform where we can engage one another without the demagoguery of partisan politics and irrationality of groupthink. Let us agree on a key set of values that made America great before, and pursue them together, despite our differences, to make America great again.

It takes people recognizing each others volition and freedoms that make such a society like ours possible, and I encourage you to join us as we go along this journey.

Directing the Braggart Warrior

Or…

Murphy’s Law Revisited

Probably most people who read this column—all three of you—have never had the privilege, the excitement, the frustration, the anguish, and the exhilaration of directing a play. Some might even ask, “what the heck does a director do?“  The answer:  Mostly he or she worries a lot because the director is responsible for putting the many aspects of the play into an understandable, coherent, and, hopefully, entertaining artistic whole.

Acting, interpretation of the script, music, sound effects, sets, lighting, costumes, and props all contribute to the finished product, but they all begin with the director’s concept and knowledge, although the actual creations of the individual parts fall to experts in the various fields. Then the director makes certain that all the parts fit together into one unit. The finished product can be the source of great pride, wishing for more time, making excuses, or unfortunately sometimes just plain old embarrassment.In 1963 and 1964 I was teaching full time at a high school in Downey, California, while also working for my masters degree in theater at Cal-State, Long Beach. I was the first person to go through the newly formed and accepted program when I came face-to-face with a primary example of Murphy’s Law:  “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

I wanted to direct a modern, small cast play as the final requirement for the degree, leaning toward Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The faculty nixed my proposition, informing me that the play must be of classical origin with at least a moderate sized cast. We finally agreed on Miles Gloriosus, or The Braggart Warrior, a Roman comedy from about 200 B.C by the playwright Titus Macius Plautus. (The play formed one-third of the 1960’s musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum.)   We  needed a modern English translation for the contemporary American audience.

A faculty member who taught Latin at Long Beach volunteered and wrote the translation. While he was a delightful, kind, gentle person and a fine teacher (I was told), he did not know beans about what is funny to an audience. So I had to spend a great deal of time re-writing with the timing, rhythms, and actors’ abilities in mind. Then things got worse.

My chief advisor and chair of my committee, a man I considered also a friend, was to handle all the scheduling and other administrative details with the university. He had some “minor” surgery scheduled near the beginning of the process. When the doctors performed the surgery, however, they discovered inoperable and advanced cancer, giving him just a few months to live. Obviously my need to schedule time and space for rehearsals, performance, and other mitigating factors became quite low on his list of priorities. I now had to handle those details from fifteen miles away and with no formal credentials.

One of a director’s first jobs is to meet with set, costume and lighting designer(s) to discuss the style and needs of the show. Such factors as basic colors, time period, or important set pieces such as an entrance to the kitchen, a window that lets in sunlight, a desk with a telephone, or whatever. I met with the set and costumer designer assigned to my show, went over the basics, and we agreed to meet in two weeks with him presenting preliminary sketches. When I went to the university to meet with him, I could not find him, so I asked some theater students if they had seen him. The reply came, “Oh, didn’t you hear?  He died last week.”  The young man was 23 years old, obviously a shock to everyone. After a week or two, I was assigned another designer.

Designer 2.0 and I went through the same process with an agreement to meet in two weeks. He phoned me a few days later to inform me that he had had an interview at Disney Studios and they offered him a full time job on the spot. We then went to Designer 3.0. This one worked out well, thankfully. Indeed, she not only did a fine job with sets and costumes, but we dated for a few months after the play.

Now it was time to cast the play. I had auditions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, November 25 and 26, 1963. Those who were around at that time may just remember that Monday, November 25. Only one thing seemed to happen in the United States that day: we buried the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. All schools, most businesses, and just about everything else came to a standstill in that time period. So I had only Tuesday for tryouts. That Thursday, however, was Thanksgiving, and many, if not most, students simply went home for the holiday. I had five men tryout for seven male roles. I spent Thanksgiving weekend re-writing again.

Because of my chief advisor’s medical condition, no one bothered to inform me that the main stage play directed by a faculty member needed more rehearsal time, so they added two weeks. Those two weeks coincided with my first two weeks of rehearsal, and my two male leads were in the other play. Just try starting rehearsals without the main male parts.     

One week or ten days before the play was scheduled to open, my leading lady came up to me after rehearsal and said, “I decided I don’t want to do this, so I am leaving.”  I now had just a few days left, but I had no female lead. Two summers before I had directed a musical for junior high students at a community center. The center director’s daughter, then a high school student, was my assistant and she was now a stage hand on my production. I told her she did not have to do it, but if she wanted the part it was hers. She accepted, learned the lines and movements quickly, and actually did a better job than the original lead probably would have done. Hey, at least one good thing happened.

My advisor was well enough to come to one of the two performances, although he had little positive to say. When he told me that the play was not really working, I told him, “I don’t care. It is done and that is all I care about.”  He understood. That was the last time I saw him alive.

I naively thought that once the show played, it was over and I would be anointed a Master of Arts. The faculty committee members informed me that I needed to write it as a thesis, including what problems arose and how they were solved. So I wrote some more, all this in the days of typewriters, not computers with word processing.

So I wrote, included pictures and the script, as well as the analysis. I then presented the finished copy to the committee and a copy to the library at the university. The library refused it, however, because I had done their copy on 10# onion skin paper and they wanted 9#. Not only was all this B. C., Before Computers, it was also Before Copiers. I took all 200+ pages to a blueprint printer, paying $.25 per page in 1964 dollars. Fortunately, the library accepted that copy even though it was 20# paper. I gave them the copy and they accepted it exactly five minutes before I would have started losing academic credits faster than I could make them up.

 Did I ever want to say, “The hell with it,” toss the script in the trash, and forget the whole business?  Of course I did. Often. Recently I read some philosophy that San Antonio Spur’s basketball coach Greg Popovich gave reporters regarding his star player’s injuries and the team’s 0 – 3 playoff standing against the Golden State Warriors: 

 Circumstances are such that we could be in a totally different position right now. That didn’t happen. It’s called life. Slap yourself, quit your crying and move on.

Fifty-three years ago I, nor anyone else, heard of Popovich, but his advice seems as relevant to problems with directing a play, coaching a basketball team, or anything else in life where one experiences setbacks. After five decades the tragic, as well as the simply frustrating, events of that four month period remain in my mind as clearly as the NBA playoffs of 2017.      

Summer Writer’s Block, Vol. 4

Yes, if you’re keeping score at home, this is my 4th summer of writer’s constipation. As both of my loyal readers know, I struggle each year with something to write about at the conclusion of my summer vacation season. Sadly, “vacation” this year ultimately means moving my daughters to their respective colleges, (pause for a heavy sigh), and not tanning in my sexy Speedo swimsuit at some far away, yet affordable, sun-soaked destination spot like Lodi or Copperopolis .

At the beginning of the summer, I set three goals for myself; #1, Spend quality time with my daughters (without driving them crazy), #2, Eradicate (painfully) the gopher gang wreaking havoc on my backyard landscape and #3, Try to somehow strike a stronger resemblance to my younger, thinner and more handsome Bitmoji. I had also hoped to craft a Summer Writer’s Block piece that informed and entertained the ALIVE audience with a splattering of offerings related to my current surroundings. This is more a mission statement than a goal.Prognostication

If anyone out there in readerville remembers my 2016 Summer Writer’s Block Vol. 3 piece, I predicted the Warriors would go 81-1 in the regular season and 16-0 in the playoffs. It would appear that I wasn’t too far off. My bookie thought I was nuts, but happily took my money, when I laid down that bet in late September 2016. Granted, I was a little nervous when the Dub’s lost that first game of the season against the Spurs, which then required them to go 81-0 the balance of the season for me to collect, but I didn’t feel it was impossible . Alas, I’m just happy Steph, Clay, Dray and KD brought the NBA championship back to the Bay Area even if I didn’t win any money. Next year, I might wager on 200 points in a game (every game). Unfortunately, my Giants vs. A’s World Series bet isn’t looking overly strong right now, but there’s still time and anything can happen.

Speaking of sports…

A Switch

This month, I’ll be trading in two teenage girls for 40 tween-age boys. Beginning August 1st, I’ll be once again coaching the junior midget (11-13 years old/90 – 150 lbs.) Division of San Ramon Valley Thunderbird football. Along with Head Coach Sean Gann, OC – Scott Harper, DC – Eric Nystrom and position coaches Rob Rutchena, George Schramm and Dave Stallard, (and numerous other coaches at the five separate divisions) we’re out to turn boys into men…or at least into big boys. Full-pad tackle football is a huge time commitment consisting of conditioning, contact drills and playbook comprehension. The players have some work to do too. I can’t give these young men enough credit because when a majority of their peers are glued to a video screen during the last few weeks of summer vacation, T-Bird players are working hard (physically and mentally) in ninety plus degree heat to compete at the ultimate team sport. I am undoubtedly biased, but it’s hard to dispute that football builds character, integrity and camaraderie with your teammates that is hard to match playing Mind Craft or watching TV.

Speaking of watching TV…

Binge and Purge Watching

I just wrapped up binge watching House of Cards, Bloodline and Orange is the New Black. That was preceded by 13 Reasons Why, Stranger Things and old episodes of The West Wing. Now that I’ve digested all of those TV calories, I need to purge something. Perhaps, there’s a television laxative I could take to clean out the viewing bowels. I can’t wait to hurl out Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med. I would have completely blown out Chicago Justice, but luckily it only lasted one season. Fortunately, thanks to counseling, I’m currently digesting a more reasonable serving of Veep, Silicon Valley and reruns of Modern Family. Maybe I should think about reading a book.

Speaking of books…

The Trilogy

People in the street are constantly approaching me, asking when I’ll be coming out with my third book. First, they ask me for spare change or if I want to buy some weed, but then they ask about the book. SPOILER ALERT: The third leg of my trilogy is in the works, but I need another year’s worth of material before I can reach the required 300-pages of dribble/er, content. I always knew my book series wouldn’t be complete until the third installment came out. Much like Hunger Games, Divergent, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the 50 Shades of Gray series, it takes three books to tell the entire story of Mike Copeland. That and I am a sucker for the concept of self-publishing, self-promoting and maintaining my high self-esteem. Now if I could just get my former school library’s to carry my books.

Speaking of school…

Grad Party Burnout

My wife and I attended our share of high school, college and 8th Grade graduation celebrations this summer, not to mention going to a few away/farewell parties. One might say I have a grad party hangover or perhaps a hangover from being over served at every grad party we attended. Now that we are two-time veterans of the grad party wars, I feel the need to share a few valuable grad party tips or grad party Do’s and Don’ts, if you will. Do hire a mobile caterer to handle the food; my recommendation is El Paisa Taco Truck from Oakland. The food is out of this world. Don’t feel the need to throw back a shot of tequila with every guest that walks through the door. Bad choice. Do start making your plans ahead of time and not the night before. Been there/done that = gradtastrophy. I’m trying to talk my wife into hiring herself out as a Grad Party Consultant next year. If you’re looking to outsource the stress of organizing a raging grad party, she would coordinate the food, booze, music, games, decorations and favors for you. She has experience and references (me). Book now for the 2018 graduation season, or by December of 2017, if your child happens to be graduating from trade school, cosmetology school or the exotic dancer academy. You can pay her in taco truck bucks. I love that gosh-darn food.

Speaking of high school…

Heart Felt Home Town Recognition

Alongside telling you about some of the lighter parts of my life’s journey, on a more serious note, I must also mention dear friends who will be missed—all of whom were important parts of that journey.

Sadly, I recently attended a funeral for perhaps the greatest athlete my high school (the original Mountain View High School on Castro Street in Mountain View, CA) ever produced. Denny Mateo was not only an incredible three-sport athlete, he was also an exemplary husband, father, brother, son, teammate and friend. Denny was a larger-than-life quarterback who had just led our small, military-base fed, ethnically-diverse high school to a Central Coast Section (CCS) Football Championship his sophomore year. Denny’s hard working, humble, non-assuming demeanor was something everyone at our high school respected, and it proved to be a leadership lesson for players to come. He truly cared about people and his compassion inspired people. Denny was also the older brother of two of my close high school friends, Chris and Tim, and the son of my former coach (Mr. Dennis Mateo). Denny was someone special and my heart goes out to the entire family for their loss.

It seems I’ve lost too many friends my age the past few years. Joe Baker, Sean Cooley, Mark Fox, Ted Helgans and Pat McCarthy are all missed. It goes without saying that we all need to appreciate the time we have with the ones we love. In the immortal words of Rod Stewart, Life is so brief and time is a thief… and like a fistful of sand it can slip right through your hands. Live, Love, Laugh are good words to live by, especially if you’re struggling with an imaginary case of summer writer’s block.

 

Night at the Museum

The Blackhawk Museums of Danville, known for their premier classic world class automobile exhibition International Automotive Treasures, has recently launched two new exhibitions; Art of Africa and Into China with a third Wonders of Natural History opening later in the fall. The Spirit of the Old West exhibition that was launched in 2014 illustrates the visual history of the American West through the journeys of Plains Indians, settlers and pioneers which has already attracted large numbers of visitors and thousands of Bay Area schoolchildren.

The popular exhibition takes viewers through the past with a collection of historic artifacts that depict the varied American cultures and how people lived in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the ways the American Indians and the pioneering newcomers interacted during America’s greatest westward migrations. Western History is portrayed through an unrivaled scope of antique and historic artifacts including eagle feather war bonnets, weaponry, apparel, peace pipes, a tipi, and an ox-drawn covered wagon.

Among the attractions and interactive exhibitions that excite children the most are the animal mount specimens such as buffalo, bear, moose, wolf, beaver, and an American eagle. The exhibition is anchored by a 140-foot long topographical diorama with 9,000 hand-painted figures portraying the lives of the West’s settlements, Plains Indians, the Gold Rush, the Iron Horse railroad, and other events  that affected the course of history,

The member-supported Blackhawk Museums, founded in 1988, is one of the Bay Area’s must-see museums offering several diverse attractions on three floors that are continuously evolving with new exhibitions that span four continents with the Art of Africa, Into China, and this fall the Wonders of Natural History that will explore the creatures of the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.  

Ken Behring, philanthropist extraordinaire, is realizing his longtime dream of bringing history and culture to the Bay Area communities through educational state-of-the-art exhibitions.  His longtime connections to China, and several countries in Africa, have led to his involvement in the founding of over 40 Museums of Natural History.  In addition to his expertise in founding museums, his Wheelchair Foundation, a subsidiary of Global Health and Education Foundation, has also delivered over one million wheelchairs to those in need of mobility, has provided fresh drinking water in drought-impacted areas, and also sponsors eye surgeries bringing the gift of sight to many. 

The Blackhawk Museums, in addition to the on-site exhibitions, offer several outreach programs that include the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, ongoing lecture series, and educational and entertaining special events such as Cars & Coffee which attracts car club enthusiasts and as many as 1,200 vintage automobiles that gather the first Sunday of every month. In addition to regular activities for the membership, the museum also sponsors open-to-the-public fund raising events.  

One of the largest annual fund raising events, sponsored by the Friends of the Blackhawk Museums, aptly titled Night at The Museum , offers a live auction, dinner, dancing to live music, costume prizes, and historic reenactments featuring Jesse James, General George Custer, a Buffalo Soldier, and other iconic western characters. Costumed reenactments will carry guests through the portals of time into the Spirit of the Old West exhibition where the Plains Indians and pioneers are recreated amid authentic artifacts in the ambiance of “Cowboy and Indian” Western history.

One of the most exciting aspects of the third annual Night at the Museum live auction is the opportunity to bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences; a Photo Safari at the Ezulwini Game Reserve in South Africa; Behind-the-Scenes Museum Experience in Washington D.C.; Monaco Historic Mille Miglia Races 2018; Indianapolis 500 Paddock Box Experience for Two; Vintage Land Rover Old Ghost Towns off-road Excursion, and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance VIP Experience.

The state-of-the-art Blackhawk Museums exhibit various collections where visitors can stroll, not only through the past, but across continents. Besides the American Indian and Cowboy experience the visitor can enjoy the stunning Art of Africa featuring Massai and Makonde cultural examples of village  handicrafts of hand-carved ebony, blackwood, and rosewood sculptures, musical instruments, ceremonial masks, apparel and animal paintings representing Sub-Saharan Africa; Tanzania, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.  

Further down the museum’s West Wing the visitor passes through the Moon Gate and enters Into China pavilion to view a vast collection showcasing Chinese sculptures, porcelains, jade carvings, mother-of-pearl inlaid boxes, silk embroidered lantern screens, Tang Dynasty horses, silken embroidered robes, a Buddhist Shrine altar proscenium, a Forbidden City Golden Throne replica, and artifacts that explore the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western Culture.

The anchor piece in the vast pavilion is a massive carving known as “The Dream”, a monumental work of art inspired by the “Peach Blossom Spring” fable and immortalized in the novel Shangri-La.  The expansive “Shanshiu-style” sculpture is fashioned from 1000 year old fossilized tuchen root wood found only in Burma and Laos. The hand-carved scene of mountain spires, rivers, lakes and seas is where fishermen and contented village dwellers live within a 4th century fantasy Utopian fable.

Mr. Zhang, the art work’s designer and master carver, told me it took four craftsmen five years to carve and who were guided by the fossil’s natural forms that dictated the flow of the art work. In addition to carving the intricate masterpiece it took a decade to remove and transport the subterranean fossilized root wood from a forest in Burma.

The Into China collection represents the cultural embodiment of China through this unique trove of art and utilitarian objects of great beauty. Ken Behring maintains that museums have a special way of uniting people of all cultures and, in addition to donating to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., his vision has come to fruition by introducing the exhibitions  to the Blackhawk Museums showcasing the International Automobile Treasures, and history of the American West, Sub-Saharan Africa, and China.  

The Friends of Blackhawk Museums is the fund raising volunteer auxiliary arm of the member-supported museums that sponsor several events each year to benefit the Children’s Education and Transportation Fund. No large institution can function without the indefatigable services of their dedicated volunteers, therefore Friends of the Blackhawk Museums is accepting applications for interested volunteer docents and guides who wish to share their knowledge on guided tours for adults and children visitors.  Since the program’s inception in 1991, with children’s education as its primary mission, about 190,500 students have visited the museums. The Blackhawk Museums is a not-for-profit corporation with IRS 501 (3) status. As always, museum members attend the exhibitions and lecture series free of charge.

The Night at the Museum fund raising event will be held on Sunday October 15th at 5:30 pm. Guests are encouraged to wear “Spirit of the Old West” attire. The dinner and Live Auction starts at 7:30. Tickets are $90.00 per person. Call: 925.736.2277 x234, or email NATM@BlackhawkMuseum.org           

Blackhawk Museums, 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506