Peace an Exhibit
T-shirt worn by Stephen Downs when he was arrested in Crossgates
Mall [Newsfront, March 13] will be saved for posterity as
a part of the New York State Museum’s collection of political
On June 18, Downs was approached by the state museum and asked
to donate both his shirt and the shirt worn to the mall that
same day by his son Roger. The infamous T-shirt, which is
white with blue lettering, features the words “Give Peace
a Chance” and “Peace on Earth.” These shirts created a media
frenzy in the Capital Region, nationally and internationally.
Roger complied with Guilderland Police and removed his less-famous
T-shirt, which reads “No War With Iraq” on one side and “Let
Inspections Work” on the other.
arrest] certainly was an event that generated a lot of media
coverage, so the shirt documents that media event.” said Clifford
Siegfried, director of the state museum. “When you’re collecting
contemporary objects, you might not know what they mean at
the time, but they got a lot of widespread attention, so it’s
worthy. We’re waiting to find out the significance of that
event. History will determine that.”
Of the 8 million pieces in the New York State Museum, the
political T-shirt collection, as a small subset of the textile
and clothing collection, consists of approximately 200 T-shirts.
In the early ’90s, the biggest donation came from a printing
company that went out of business and donated samples of shirts.
The T-shirts in the collection feature social and political
commentary from the ’60s to the present. One of Siegfried’s
favorites is about women’s rights: “A woman’s place is in
the House and Senate.”
Downs was arrested by Guilderland Police on March 3 while
shopping at Crossgates. Two days after his arrest, more than
100 people protested in a Mall Walk for Peace.
Pyramid Management Group, which owns Crossgates Mall, decided
not to press charges.
Downs had never considered the possibility of having his T-shirt
in a museum until it became official last week. When he was
first approached about the idea, he thought it was a joke.
But now Downs thinks immortalizing his shirt is “a way to
show the temper of the times.”
incident seems to have struck a deep chord in the American
people right now, in fact all over the world,” said Downs.
“The chord seems to be that people look to America for freedom,
democracy, for freedom of speech, and it troubles them everywhere
when they see it being abused. It’s something I treasure very
much about America.”
The political T-shirt collection is not on display, and there
are no specific plans for a future exhibit.
this point we don’t have a curator of textiles, so I’m not
sure [about future plans],” Siegfried said. “If we were going
to exhibit it, we would do so in some context.”
concert at Skidmore: Geri Allen.
Jazz in the Summertime
The Skidmore College Jazz Institute has been awarded a $10,000
grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, to help support
the Institute’s annual two-week program, which begins Saturday
(June 28) and continues through July 12.
year’s all-star faculty includes bassist Todd Coolman, trumpeters
Clyde Kerr Jr. and John LaBarbera, trombonist Curtis Fuller,
saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, pianist Frank Mantooth, historian
Hal Miller and former Tonight Show (Johnny Carson-era)
A major part of the Jazz Institute’s mission is to present
a series of concerts by major artists. This year’s schedule
includes the Terence Blanchard Septet (July 1, 8 PM), the
Jazz Faculty Sextet (July 3, 8 PM and July 10, 8 PM), Jerry
Gonzales and the Fort Apache Band (July 5, 8 PM), and the
Geri Allen Trio (July 8, 8 PM). There are also two shows featuring
Jazz Institute participants, at 1 PM on July 4 and 11. All
concerts are in Skidmore’s Bernhard Theater, and are free
and open to the public.