Gonzo Arabia

Aspen, CO

Transcription of speech by Bob Braudis, Former Sheriff of Pitkin County, on the occasion of the opening of Gonzo Arabia: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Aspen, Colorado.

Thursday 30th June 2016

Welcome to Gonzo Arabia. A strange marriage, possibly a ‘pocket full of fish-hooks’ to use a Hunter Thompson analogy. This Union most appropriately, has been sealed in paradise, my paradise, Aspen, Colorado.

Defining Gonzo as an observer, participant and occasional contributor to Hunter Thompson’s Gonzo journalism, my succinct definition of Gonzo style says, simply, “obsessive fact-checking with varying proportions of imagination.”

Hunter’s writings spared nobody and no national nor global issues. It’s an election year here in America, and many of us morn Hunter’s absence and the void created by his journalistic vacuum. It was an election year in 1970 when Thompson entered the race for Pitkin County Sheriff. An outstanding history of Hunter’s campaign has been memorialized in DJ Watkins’ book, Freakpower, which graphically emphasizes the role of art in this attempt to change our local criminal justice system.

One night, alone with Hunter in his Kitchen, during a discussion of journalism, Hunter looked me in the eye, for emphasis, and said, “I never learn anything while I am speaking.”

That’s damn fine advise for reporters, policemen, candidates and artists hoping to portray and express the intangibles of a culture, a population, a movement.

50% of Saudis are under the age of 25. The future of the Kingdom is in their hands. The young Saudi artists visiting and showing at Gonzo Arabia are making statements, in their art, their activism, and their courage and energy to travel, as strangers in a strange land.

Let us listen to their art, which speaks, and their words, as we take this rare opportunity to enquire, listen and engage with our new friends.

Saudi Arabia is not immune to the wave of extremism sweeping the Middle East. Abdulnasser believes perceptively that one of the contributing elements to extremism and radicalism is boredom with a youth unemployment rate of over 30%, this challenge emerges large in Saudi Arabia. Abdulnasser teaches art and creativity to youth at his studio in Riyadh.

All of this art speaks… listen, enquire, and feel confident that art is universal, a possible bond between cultures. It is my sincere hope that this link will add only more to peace, to end the historical wars that are part of human matters. Inshallah brothers and sisters.

Exhibition Title: Gonzo Arabia: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Aspen

Part of Bridges 2016-2017: an ITHRA initiative

Location: Gonzo Gallery, Aspen, CO

Exhibition Dates: June 30, 2016 – September 1, 2016

Artists: Sarah Abu Abdullah, Njoud Alanbari, Saeed Salem, Faisal Samra, Rashed Al Shashai, Dhafer Al Shehri, Abdulnasser Gharem, Ajlan Gharem, Nugamshi, Shaweesh, Telefaz 11

Dispatch Date: August 1, 2016

Bob Braudis, Former Sheriff of Pitkin County.

Bob Braudis, Former Sheriff of Pitkin CountyBob Braudis retired after six terms as the elected Sheriff. Spent two years, 1985 and 86, as a Pitkin County Commissioner. Land use and zoning. Yaaawn. Back to public safety in '87.

Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo journalist