2017-04-26, Charles Townley, Politics and Art in China

President Elect Lya called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.  Mary Ellen gave a stirring invocation based on the poem: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil F. Alexander in Hymns for Little Children published in1848. Pres. Elect Lya then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Inspired by this beautiful day we are having, Earl Phillips led us in singing “America the Beautiful.”  Due to the full agenda, there was no “Meet and Greet” – just a friendly “Waive.”  President Elect Lya invited Rotarians with guests to introduce them.  She then introduced the high school student guests and visiting Rotarian.

Happy $$: Patty – renumbered the badges and cleaned them.  Some were not waterproof!  Glenn Duff – sad $ moving to Clayton, NM; Wendy – visiting grandson next week;  Mary Ellen – happy $ (bribe!) to bring our attention to the “Full Moon” night golf tournament fundraiser for the Las Cruces Symphony on May 12;  John Hernandez – “just might glad to be here!”  Barry – taking his wife on a much deserved vacation to New York City next week; Rynni – LC Sun News has tickets to the Las Cruces Country Music Festival this weekend; Kristi – for the awesome Rotary Club in Clayton, NM; Gus G. – our student guest Antonio was one of his players at Oñate.  Gary A. – has a house for rent in Clayton; Ana – husband is from the area around Clayton.  It appears that Clayton was a nice revenue generator this week.

Oñate high school student Antonio Zamora and Centennial high school student Brighton Turner gave excellent presentations.

The Program

This month’s program coordinator, Jay Jordan, introduced our own Rotarian, Charles Townley, as today’s program presenter.  Charles is a professor emeritus in the College of Education and the Honors College.  He previously served as Dean of Libraries at NMSU.  Jay noted that when Charles attended Commencement ceremonies at NMSU dressed in his academic regalia, he was the epitome of a Dean!  It is an understatement to say that Charles is a world traveler.  The list of places he has visited requires more space than we have here.  One of his favorite places is China where he has lived for a total of nearly three years and visited at least 15 times over the past 20 years.  He was a Fulbright Scholar twice and a visiting professor over a dozen times at the Beijing Normal University, one of China’s leading Universities. 

In the mid-1990’s Charles took an interest in contemporary Chinese art.  He started visiting galleries and attending openings, collecting pieces along the way.  Today he has more than 60 pieces in his collection.  Through his studies of the contemporary art and the artists, he gained a profound insight into the relationship of Chinese art and the rapid changes in the society especially politics.  Charles presented slides of eleven of his favorite pieces.  Each piece had a fascinating story and definite political message.  Many of the expressed ideas about the Government that could not be expressed openly.  Early in his presentation, Charles noted that historically, Chinese scholars were both bureaucrats and artists: “they painted, wrote poetry and ran the country!”  During the Soviet era, the art depicted happy peasants and factory workers, strictly following the official political guidelines.  The first exhibit of modern Chinese art was in 1989, the same year as the Tiananmen Massacre.  Remarkably, the art that emerged was political and independent of what was officially sanctioned.  The messages were subtle and restrained, but clear to those looked and listened closely.  Charles’ presentation gave us a unique insight into this art evolution that continues through today.  A lively discussion followed the presentation.

After the Program

Patty announced that donations to the can came to $75 for our exchange student.  Bob Seaton drew the winning ticket.  Before drawing a card, he announced the program for next week: "US-Russia Recent Developments."  Mary Ellen predicted that he would draw the joker.  He accidentally drew two cards, neither of which was the joker.  This pot stays at $500, but the next one is over $300 and continues to grow.  President Elect Lya concluded the meeting by leading us in reciting the 4-Way Test.

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



Katelin Ponder

Richelle Ponder

Isobel Hernández

John Hernández

Trina Davis

Bobby Rankin

Greg Cory

Robert Seaton

Visiting Rotarians


Home Club

Mary Lee Shelton

Juaréz Campestre

Student Guests



Antonia Zamora


Brighton Turner




Date Club







Ana Mangino

May 2

James R. Gerwels

May 3

Caroline Zamora

May 19

Lynford Ames

May 20

Elaine Szalay

May 25

Mark Santiago

May 28

Wedding Anniversaries-May



Wedding Anniversary


Ted E. Shelton Jr.

Mary Lee

May 15

41 years

Jim Maxon

Jaqueline Sledge

May 18

4 years

Robert Seaton


May 23

30 years

Gregory R. Fant


May 22

27 years

Earl Phillips


May 23

56 years

Club Anniveraries-May


Club Anniversary


Ted E. Shelton Jr.

May 1

31 years

James Parks

May 6

30 years

Cornell Menking

May 8

4 years

Richelle Ponder

May 23

16 years

Submitted by Jay JordanJay Jordan