Category Archives: Art

Mr. Fish: Through a Looking Glass Darkly


blog-fish

From Clowncrack, his blog of autogenous autognosis, where he writes:

I received a note this morning from a fan who reminded me of an illustration that I did almost 4 years ago.  He correctly suggested that the image might have greater relevance now than when I originally posted it, which is unfortunately true.  So, in the interest of forcing our collective faces back into the instructive commentary offered by the deep dark truthful mirror, I present this cartoon, not as proof of our defeat at the rope-burned hands of bigots and soulless automatons of institutionalized bigotry and hick paranoia, but rather as a battle cry calling to action the hearts and minds of better men and women poised and ready to fight peaceably for a kinder and more tolerant future.

The image itself is an homage, itself through a glass darkly, to a self-portrait by Norman Rockwell, the late master imagist of everyday America:

blog-rockwell

Florence says no to McDonald’s, then gets sued


The Italian city, famed for its magnificent medieval and Renaissance arcitecture and art decided against letting the fast food giant open an outlet in their most revered public space, the Piazza del Duomo.

A 360-degree panoramic of the Piazza del Duomo, via Wikipedia.

A 360-degree panoramic of the Piazza del Duomo, via Wikipedia.

The story from RT:

McDonald’s has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Florence, Italy, for blocking its plans to open a restaurant on the iconic Piazza del Duomo, one of the most visited places in Europe.

The US fast food chain told AFP it was claiming some €17.8 million ($19.65 million) in damages, saying the suit was being filed with the administrative court which arbitrates in governance disputes in Italy.

The Piazza del Duomo, located in the heart of Florence’s historic city center, is a gem of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its buildings include the domed Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Giotto bell tower, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and the St. John Baptistery.

Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, rejected McDonald’s application in June, saying “McDonald’s has the right to submit an application, because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no.”

A Facebook campaign launched to oppose the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant on the historic plaza received more than 17,000 likes.

Perhaps the best single comment on the Facebook campaign page comes in the form of a Photoshopping of Florence’s most famous public artwork, Michelangelo’s David, supersized and holding a burger:

blog-mac

And, via Wikipedia, the pre-Big Mac David:

blog-david

And now for something completely different. . .


And that would be another delightful animation from the National Film Board of Canada.

Today’s offering is a creation of artist Emmanuelle Loslier, who combines live action, origami, stop action animation, and a pun to create an imaginary world on a real Montreal street.

Inspector Street

Program notes:

This short animation begins with a newspaper, discarded on a public bench, whose headlines warn of unusual phenomena. A gust of wind animates the paper’s pages, conjuring strange and fantastical creatures: a bridge that becomes a caterpillar, a steeple turning into a bird, a dome transformed into an octopus. Elemental forces have been unleashed. Skilfully wielding paper cut-outs, origami, and a healthy dose of humour, filmmaker Emmanuelle Loslier plunges us into a fantastical world in which Montreal’s urban landscape has never been so alive.

Studies reveal music’s big impacts on growing brain


We’ve always been passionate believers in the value of music and art ecducation starting at the earliest years.

Gowing up in Kansas in the 1950s, we were the beneficiary of musical education that started in elementary school, where we participated in both singing and band programs, acquiring a love of music that has lasted throughout these last seven decades.

Our paternal grandmother was an elementary school teacher in Abilene, Kansas, and music was a critical part of her daily teaching. After her death in 1959, we received a letter from one her colleagues, telling us that one of her students had written that he still found inspiration in songs he had learned in her first and second grade classes.

The pupil was Dwight David Eisenhower, then serving as President of the United States.

Music and fine arts programs slashed as testing rises

But today, in classrooms across the country, education is music and the fine arts has fallen prey to a combination of budget cuts and the relentless imperative of the standardized test, a regime designed to turn out cogs in the machine rather than well-rounded, independent-minded individuals.

As the journal of the National Education Association reported in 2014:

Across the nation, the testing obsession has nudged aside visual arts, music, physical education, social studies, and science, not to mention world languages, financial literacy, and that old standby, penmanship. Our schools, once vigorous and dynamic centers for learning, have been reduced to mere test prep factories, where teachers and students act out a script written by someone who has never visited their classroom and where “achievement” means nothing more than scoring well on a bubble test.

“NCLB [No Child Left Behind] has corrupted what it means to teach and what it means to learn,” explains NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Teachers have to teach in secret and hope they don’t get into trouble for teaching to the Whole Child instead of teaching to the test.”

A Google search for the words “music education elementary schools eliminated” turns up more than a million hits, a tragic litany of stories reporting slashed programs across the nation and throughout much of the Western world.

Musical training improves standardized testing scores

Ironically, music education actually improves children’s test scores, as the Children’s Music Workshop notes:

Music education programs increase children’s cognitive development. Also, research shows that “preschoolers who took daily 30 minute group singing lessons and a weekly 10-15 minute private keyboard lesson scored 80 percent higher in object assembly skills than students who did not have the music lessons,” as reported in a 1994 study by Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw at the University of California, Irvine (Harvey, 1997). It is clear that music education programs dramatically stimulate a child’s learning capacity, as shown in drastic increases in the scores of children who participated in music programs. Music education programs can begin as early as preschool and should continue for the greatest results.

When music education is sustained throughout the elementary years, children continue to learn better through the clear connections between music and other areas of study. For instance, a 1999 study presented in Neurological Research reveals that when second and third-grade students were taught fractions through basic music rhythm notation, they “scored a full 100% higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner.” This study shows that the students who learned about the mathematical concept of fractions related their music knowledge of the relationships between eighth, quarter, half and whole notes in order to fully understand the material.

Students in music programs consistently score better on tests, as also exemplified in the 2001 study compiled by Music Educators National Conference, which exhibits that “SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework/experience in the arts.” It is obvious that when students have experience in music education in both the elementary and high school level, they perform considerably better in other important subjects as well. Music education programs in the elementary school level are necessary for the future success of students in all subject areas.

Musical training reshapes the brain

A major study by scientists from Harvard and McGill University and published in the Journal of Neuroscience [open access] used brain imaging to map changes in children’s brains resulting from musical study concluded with this summary:

M]usical training over only 15 months in early childhood leads to structural brain changes that diverge from typical brain development. Regional training-induced structural brain changes were found in musically relevant regions that were driven by musically relevant behavioral tests. The fact there were no structural brain differences found between groups before the onset of musical training indicates that the differential development of these brain regions is induced by instrumental practice rather by than preexisting biological predictors of musicality. These results provide new evidence for training-induced structural brain plasticity in early childhood. These findings of structural plasticity in the young brain suggest that long-term intervention programs can facilitate neuroplasticity in children. Such an intervention could be of particular relevance to children with developmental disorders and to adults with neurological diseases.

And yet another study proves the power of music. . .and dance

And now comes yet another study revealing the direct impact of education in music and dance on the brains of growing children.

From Concordia University in Montreal:

Endless hours at the barre. Long afternoons practising scales. All that time you spent in piano lessons and dance classes as a youngster may have seemed like a pain, but new research now confirms what your parents claimed: it’s good for mind and body.

In fact, a recent study published in NeuroImage ($35.95 to access] by a team* of researchers from the the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research, proves that dance and music training have even stronger effects on the brain than previously understood — but in markedly different ways.

The researchers used high-tech imaging techniques to compare the effects of dance and music training on the white matter structure of experts in these two disciplines. They then examined the relationship between training-induced brain changes and dance and music abilities.

Continue reading

Emperor sans clothes: A sculptural protest


First, the artworks in question, via INDECLINE:

The Emperor has no balls

Program notes:

Artist: Ginger

Original Score: Ryder Reynolds

And the story from the Associated Press:

It’s Donald Trump like you’ve never seen him before.

Life-size naked statues of the Republican presidential nominee greeted passers-by in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland on Thursday. They are the brainchild of an activist collective called INDECLINE, which has spoken out against Trump before.

In a statement, the collective said the hope is that Trump, the former host of “The Apprentice” reality TV series, “is never installed in the most powerful political and military position in the world.”

The statues were created by an artist in Cleveland. They are of a stern-faced Trump with his hands folded over a bulging belly. Some parts of male genitalia are visible while others seemingly are missing.

“It is through these sculptures that we leave behind the physical and metaphorical embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America’s most infamous and reviled politicians,” INDECLINE said in its statement.

Trump’s campaign declined to comment on the statues.

White Boy Privilege: An Atlanta youth nails it


A 14-year-old student won the poetry slam at his private school in Atlanta, Georgia, with a devastating take on the privileges inhering in the simple fact of being born white and male.

To be fair, Royce Mann is a talented professional actor who has appeared in feature films and acted on stage. He also writes, produces, and directs.

From Sheri Mann Stewart:

Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem


Program notes:

Royce Mann, 8th grader from Atlanta, GA, USA, wrote and performed this slam poem as part of a competition. He ended up taking home first place.

And the story, from U.S. Uncut:

Royce Mann, a white eighth-grade student and rising acting star, recently brought the house down in a passionate slam poetry performance about white privilege that is spreading like wildfire.

Mann’s poem, “White Boy Privilege,” is about awakening to the fact that the world has set the 14-year-old up to succeed while stacking the deck against women, people of color, and immigrants. In the poem, he at first celebrates his privilege, saying he “loves it” that he has innate benefits as a white male in American society, but later comes to the conclusion that his privilege wasn’t created by his generation, calling on other young white males to reject their privilege and actively demand the privileges afforded to them be shared with the rest of society.

Read the poem in its entirety:

Dear women, I am sorry.

Dear black people, I am sorry.

Dear Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I am sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I am sorry.

I have started life at the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.

I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?

Probably not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.

I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay,

I’m not saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,

I’m just saying, I fucking love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away.

I love it, because I can say “fucking” and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone of my skin color has a dirty mouth.

I love it, because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it, because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate, instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it, because when I see a police officer, I see someone who’s on my side.

To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung.

If the tables were turned, and I couldn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.

If I lived a life by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.

When I was born, I had a success story already written for me. You, you were given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair, but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well, now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.

Everyone should have the privileges that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s stories should be written, so all they have to do is get it read. Enough said.

No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear, and how short they cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this, that we claim to live in an equal country in an equal world.

We say that women can vote? Well, guess what? They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curveball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary, I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys, I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking over the world, or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bullshit.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.

Hey white boys, it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.

It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.

And just for the fund of it, here’s another take on the privileges of being born white and male from comedian Louis C.K. presented in 2014 at the 3% Conference:

Louis CK “White Male Privilege”

Map of the day: Working artists and writers in EU


BLOG Euroart

The details from Eurostat:

In 2014, according to Eurostat estimations, 6 million persons were employed in the cultural field in the European Union [EU], or slightly less than 3 % of the total number of persons employed. 6 out of 10 persons in cultural employment had tertiary education.

Of the almost 2 million artists and writers in the EU, nearly half [49%] were self-employed, a share much higher than that reported for total employment [15%].

Highest share of cultural employment in Luxembourg, lowest in Romania

At Member State level, the highest shares of cultural employment were observed in Luxembourg [5.2%] and Sweden [4.1%], followed by Finland and the Netherlands [3.9% each] as well as Denmark [3.8%]. At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest share was observed in Romania [1.1%], followed by Slovakia [2.0%], Bulgaria [2.1%], Portugal [2.2%], Greece [2.3%] and Cyprus [2.4%].

Share of women in cultural employment generally higher than in total employment

On average in the EU, women represented just below half [47%] of persons employed in the cultural field, just above the share of women in total employment. In most Member States the share of women in cultural employment was higher than the share of women in total employment, in particular in the Baltic Member States Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, followed by Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia and Romania. In seven Member States there was a lower share of women in cultural employment than in total employment: Austria, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Malta, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

More persons with tertiary education in cultural employment than in total employment

In all Member States the share of persons with tertiary education was much higher in cultural employment than in total employment. The percentage point difference was highest in Luxembourg, Spain, Lithuania, Poland and Germany and lowest in Malta, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark. At EU level 60% of persons in cultural employment had tertiary education, a share almost double that in total employment.