Category Archives: Art

New Orleans evicts its Confederates monuments


We begin with a cartoon from the Baton Rouge Advocate, depicting the imminent removal of Robert E. Lee from his towering six-story marble pedestal in the heart of the Crescent City:

Walt Handelsman: Monumental change

Eviction of the military commanders who fought for slavery has been a long time coming.

The Confederate Flag has become the unofficial banner of the GOP, sported brazenly at so many Trump rallies.

As just as Robert E. Lee and his brothers in arms fought for the right of plantation owners to keep humans in chains, so the modern bearers of the Confederate battle flag are all about keep black folks down in today’s America, save for the occasional token like Ben Carson.

Lee Adelson of the Advocate reports on the removal of the last obstacle to the landmark [literally] move:

Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard will soon be decamping from their prominent pedestals in New Orleans, more than a year after the City Council declared their statues to be public nuisances that should be taken down.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously cleared the way Monday evening for the monuments to be removed, issuing an opinion that criticized groups seeking to keep the statues in place for arguments that “wholly lack legal viability or support.”

With what is likely the last legal hurdle the city faces removed, the statues are expected to come down quickly. Tyronne Walker, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said the city will start seeking bids Tuesday to remove the statues, and a contract will be awarded 25 days later.

The opinion by Judges Patrick Higginbotham, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Stephen Higginson lifted a temporary order they issued last year that had prevented the city from moving to take down the statues that have stood for many decades at Lee Circle, Jefferson Davis Parkway and the entrance to City Park.

How killing the NEA threatens America’s museums


Robert B. Ekelund, Eminent Scholar and Professor of Economics Emeritus at Auburn University, is both a classically trained pianist as well as a passionate collector of art.

He’s also a world-renowned economist.

In an analysis for The Conversation, an open source academic journal written in conversational English, Ekelund tackles an item up for the chop in Donald Trump’s first budget, abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA].

The NEA is one of three cultural institutions proposed for elimination, the others being the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

While Trump says he wants to build up infrastructure, the only improvements he wants are those related to commerce, including the roads, tunnels, and bridges we used to commute to and from those corporate jobs.

So what does it all mean for folks like us?

From The Conversation:

Some politicians have never made a secret of their desire to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as its companion agency the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Each of these agencies have traditionally been regarded as bastions of “liberalism,” making them prime targets for conservatives in the culture wars.

While I would dispute that characterization, opponents’ ostensible reason for killing off the NEA in particular is equally flimsy: cost savings. Costing taxpayers US$148 million in fiscal year 2016, the NEA made up a minuscule fraction of the $3.9 trillion the U.S. government spent. (If you add in the other two agencies on the chopping block, the total was still just $741 million.)

At the same time, NEA opponents tell those who worry their local communities will see arts funding dry up, don’t worry, private sources will emerge to make up for the difference. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

That’s because it’s the government funding itself that often drives the donations in the first place by energizing private philanthropy. And since privatization of arts funding is one of the supposed reasons for killing off the NEA, the argument begins to fall apart.

If we focus on the allocations to museums in particular, my particular focus, the proposed cuts could lead to a reduced financial health of all museums, especially smaller museums in the middle of the country.

blog-nea

Where the money goes

The NEA’s budget of $148 million is divided up among 19 different categories, including arts education, dance, music and opera. (The NEH gets a similar allocation of $148 million, while the CPB – which funds National Public Radio and PBS – gets $445 million.)

The loss of funds to each arts category would be unfortunate, but I would argue the museum funding cuts would be especially damaging. A closer look at the impact on museums is also illustrative of the deleterious effect of eliminating the NEA for American arts more generally, which generated $704 billion in economic activity in 2013. Another study showed that each dollar of investment in nonprofit cultural institutions creates $1.20 to $1.90 in per capita income.

Continue reading

Scenes from a walk in downtown Los Angeles


Thursday was a family day as esnl [behind the lens], daughter Jackie [left] her spouse Krys [right[, his mom, and granddaughter Sadie Rose [melting our heart with s a smile] hit the bricks for a day on the town, starting with a visit to the Broad Museum:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 1250, 4.3 mm, 1/250 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 1250, 4.3 mm, 1/250 sec, f3.3

Right across the street from the Broad is downtown LA’s most striking architectural feature, architect Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

We were fortunate in that all traffic to the area had been blocked off because high school students were enjoying a day with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving us the rare opportunity to shoot with any traffic:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 160, 4.4 mm, 1/640 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 160, 4.4 mm, 1/640 sec, f4

Another shot, taken from the entrance of the Broad looking across Second Street:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/2000 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/2000 sec, f4

Inside the Broad, we toured Creature, an exhibit of the monstrous captured by artists in both it florid and it’s more mundane forms. Sadie Rose found herself smitten with an Andy Warhol take on Bella Lugosi’s Dracula [she’s in her “I love monsters” phase].

We were drawn to a couple of Jeff Koons sculptures. the first, a delightful rendition of America’s greatest comedian of silent screen era, Buster Keaton:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

And there’s this rendition of the ambiguous Michael Jackson and his pet chimp, Bubbles:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 320, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 320, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

After lunch we took a stroll, giving us the opportunity of shooting two murals adorning walls adjacent to downtown parking lots.

First, a work entitled Who Will Guard the Guards Themselves?, a translation of that famous line from the Roman poet Juvenal, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/200 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/200 sec, f4

Another mural offers a more optimistic perspective:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f4

For our last two shots, we with to black and white, a perspective that allows us to capture the basic form of architectural features, as in this image of architecture detail atop a seven-story building:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 11.7 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.9

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 11.7 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.9

And finally this image of a century old medallion adorning the top of the six-story Homer Laughlin Building, home of the city’s famous Grand Central Market:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 200, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 200, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Headline of the day: Say adieu to public television


Along with art and humanities programs. . .

From the New York Times:

Trump Budget Hit List Has Programs Long in G.O.P. Sights

  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities could all be eliminated under President Trump.
  • Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year.

A ‘1984′ book giveaway is fueled by protest


A bookstore in San Francisco’s famed Haight-Ashbury district is in the news because of a gift from an anonymous donor, a contribution that has some people reading and other folks coughing up money for more giveaways.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

George Orwell’s “1984″ is required reading for most high school students, and in recent weeks, the classic dystopian novel has been selling out at bookstores across the nation.

On Friday night, a “mysterious benefactor” purchased 50 copies of the book to be given away free at Booksmith in Haight-Ashbury. According to store owner Christin Evans, the generous citizen lives in the neighborhood.

The free books were accompanied by a sign that said, “Read up! Fight back! A mystery benefactor has bought these copies of ‘1984′ for you if you need one.”

Copies of the novel were snatched up within a couple of hours, but another benefactor soon stepped up to purchase copies of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts” for the public.

The independent bookseller recently made headlines for refusing to stock copies of Milo Yianopoulos’s book upon customer request.

Evans called the book donation a “fruitful, constructive form of resistance,” and said that multiple other benefactors had already expressed interesting in purchasing books to give away at the store.

Were we rolling in flighty lucre, we add another to the giveaway pile, Terry Southern’s The Magic Christian,  a superb satire on the darkest traits of American culture and a big, arrogant blowhard who uses his fortune to get folks to do insane things.

Quotes of the day: Stephen King TrumpTweets™


A compilation of Tweets from America’s acknowledged master of horror [making him perhaps the most qualified critic of all when it comes to the Bulbous Beast of Pennsylvania Avenue]:

Welcome to the age of plunder, bluster, and empty rhetoric. In other words, to the Age of Dumb. If you voted for him, you’re responsible.

Breaking News: Sean Spicer is an idiot.

Imagine a hooligan pouring sugar into the gas tank of an expensive and well-maintained car. Trump is that hooligan. America is that car.

If only Donald Trump was 5% as good at governing as he is at firing people of conscience. His presidency is a joke. Sadly, we’re the butt.

Trump’s view of fake news explained: “If it runs counter to what I believe or say, it’s fake. The facts are irrelevant.”

How about some extreme vetting of Donald Trump’s tax returns?

Headline of the day: Explain Trump? Let George do it


From CNN:

Publisher printing more copies of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ after spike in demand

  • The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984” in response to a sudden surge of demand.
  • On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon’s computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales.
  • The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1.

The reason for the sudden surge?

Perhaps this clip from north of the border adds context.

From CBC News:

Donald Trump’s ‘alternative facts’


Program notes:

Trump’s press secretary scolds media for allegedly lying about the crowd size at last week’s inauguration, CBC’s Paul Hunter reports.