A few more days in Venice. I’m just stunned at the amount of art that is here. On the streets. In the galleries. Even in our hotel.

There is a chandelier in our lobby. It was crafted in Murano glass by Ai Weiwei. It’s handmade and one of a kind.

Ai Weiwei chandelier in lobby of St. Regis Hotel, Venice, Italy.

It appears to be a traditional Venetian chandelier. You have to look closer.

There it is. At the bottom of the chandelier is a hand. The middle finger is extended. Ai Weiwei is flipping the bird!

To whom? No one is saying, but you can make an assumption. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese dissident.

His bio is fascinating. Ai Weiwei was born in China. He grew up in northern China because his father was exiled there.

Ai eventually made his way to the United States where he explored his art. He became friends with beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

Ai has been openly critical of the Chinese stance on democracy and human rights. He has been arrested and detained by the Chinese government.

I can only assume his middle finger in that chandelier is directed toward one place. China.

Weiwei’s message may be hidden, others are not.

While we are in Venice, the International art festival known as La Biennale di Venezia is taking place. Every two years, countries from all over the world display art here.

There are some other exhibitions as well. Notably, “This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom.”

Damian Hirst has a piece here called “Wretched War.” Takashi Muraksmi’s piece is called “Ukraine: War and Peace.”

When it opened, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said by video link, “art can tell the world things that cannot be shared otherwise.”

Art can say much. Even when it’s not here. While the world is represented at this art exhibition, Russia is not.

Like many other countries, Russia has a permanent building in this park. This year, it sits empty. Locked up tight.

That tells me as much about the state of the world as anything. Ukrainian flags line buildings. Support is everywhere.

Russia is locked out. Not here. No one seems to be missing them either.

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