Daughter got peeved at me tonight; one of those MUST YOU HAVE AN OPINION moments I get when I make the mistake of speaking freely instead of nodding my head and biting my tongue. It was a Teen Event at the Art Institute called the Art of Rebellion, which made my back teeth ache. Not because they shouldn't rebel; no point in trying to put out the Fires of Youth with the tepid broth of wary experience. By all means, rebel, but against what, and why? That matters.
My mistake was having an opinion on the Art of Rebellion to the large cocktail party assembling in the atrium, because it seems like just the sort of auto-flattery a certain demographic would enjoy, because it reminded them that they were still the rebels they were when they were young. Possibly a few are, but I'm guessing that most people who dress up and drinking wine at an Art Museum are not practicing rebellion on any scale, and most have morphed so gradually into acolytes of the state that their earlier anti-state rebellion feels intellectually consistent with their previous beliefs. Why does it matter? Why do I have to have an opinion about that?
Because they ruined everything.
Well, no. But they cheered on the wreckers. They enjoyed the bonfires; it was a lark. People look romantic when their faces are lit by the flames, don't they? It wasn't that they necessarily wanted life and art to coarsen, but they couldn't bring theirselves to criticize it, because then you're Herbert, man. L-7. The proper response to ugly, meaningless art is interesting, or a knowing recognition of what particular issue the art attempts to address. If it's an approved issue, then the art is to be judged by the importance of the issue.
Upon googling the event, I discovered that it featured The Guerrilla Girls, who are art critics wearing primate masks. This is the Minneapolis Institute of Art's website:
In anticipation of the takeover, Mia asked the Guerrilla Girls to evaluate our collection. The results were shocking! How many women were on view? How can we bring equality to history? Discover the mysteries of Mia’s collection.
Oy. Well, as to the first question, I imagine they mean how many women artists, and the answer for the pre-Modern collection is probably "near zero," because there weren't many, and the answer for the Modern collection is probably "close to zero except for Georgia O'Keefe," because the mostly male art world devalued their importance. I've no reason to assume that the abstract expressionists or the action painters or the Pop Art lads were any less dismissive of women in art than the rest of men in various endeavors. As Flavorwire puts it:
Some of art history’s most radical masculine personalities emerged from the period, in which the physicality of the works echoed the ever-present “cult of manhood.” Female abstract expressionists adopted pseudonyms, positioning their work as genderless — often leading to deeply personal conflicts with their roles as women, artists, and occasionally, the wives of the movement’s most celebrated figures. Few were accepted into the circle of men, and most weren’t recognized until their deaths.
My emphasis. Because the men weren't interested in sharing the stage - men who are otherwise regarded with AWE and whose work requires genuflecting by the coterie of lazy rebels.
I recognized about four out of ten names, and I like Elaine de Kooning more than her husband's work, which looks like someone threw up gallons of Chicken a la King. Most of Abstract Impressionism is rubbish, but that's a different subject.
If they meant how many women were represented in actual art, the number would be different, because of the religious paintings, or upper-class portraits, or domestic scenes. These would all be problematic because history is problematic. Hey, here's a picture of Mary, cuddling the Hope of Humanity. It puts women on a pedestal and reinforces the cult of virginity. Okay, well, here's a portrait of a duchess looking regal and self-possessed. That suggests her participation in an oppressive social order was voluntary. Okay, here's a scullery maid in an ale house. That says women are fit only for domestic duties. Okay, well, what do you want? GOD ON THE SISTINE CHAPEL CEILING REACHING OUT HIS FINGER TO BRING MARGARET SANGER TO LIFE.
Anyway, the second question: How can we bring equality to history?
The sentiments behind the thought were so self-evidently correct that no one stopped to think how bizarre that sounds. At the most facile reading, it suggests that history should be rearranged to reflect not what happened, but what should have happened if modern values were transposed on the past. Every generation interprets the past through their own values, of course, but there is still general agreement that certain dates, people, events, inventions, and artistic creations were seminal (sorry) and influential, and while you can argue about their effect, you can't deny that they happened. You can, however, diminish their importance in favor of other dates, people, events, inventions, and artistic creations. In some cases this is wish-fulfillment. In most cases this is a graduate thesis. It may be a contrary argument whose appeal rests in its fashionable vestments, but if it has the Proper Modern Values, it becomes a new gospel simply because it rebels against those things the spirit of the times require we rebel against.
It's like playing a shell game and insisting that the pea was really under the middle shell because that's what you chose. But it was under this one. I know but it should have been under that one.
Anyway. Let's take, oh, 17th century Flemish landscape painting. Let's say the museum says "we have, as you know, one of the largest collections in the Midwest of 17th century Flemish landscape painting, and, as you know, most of it is dreary and indistinguishable. They're the small paintings we put in the galleries to take up space on the walls. You look at them, and feel vaguely proud of yourself because unlike the people who are at the sports bar cheering on the Knicks, you are looking at a 17th century Flemish landscape painting, and this separates you from the bellowing herd. I'm pleased to announce we have purchased 27 17th century Flemish landscape paintings by women, and we will be replacing the old pictures with these. Is it because they're by women? Absolutely. There's no way around that. Does that mean they're better? Judge for yourself, although any uninterested observer would say it's just more damned grey skies and windmills. But at least they show you a side of Flemish art you may not have seen, so here you go."
I would be happy with that. Why not? I would also be happy if large, garish, leering, ugly misanthropist slabs of art were replaced - or at least complimented, preferably side by side - with the commercial art done by women in the early 20th century, which was almost entirely more accomplished than the splashes and slashes done by some arrogant iconoclast with an adolescent view of the world.
That would be rebellious, wouldn't it? To fight the standard narrative and elevate the names of those who did not participate in the deconstruction of a cultural tradition? Not to celebrate the ones who kicked over the apple cart, but the ones who could actually paint an apple?
A look at how the Downtown East project looks in context:
It really keeps downtown from petering out. Puts a nice double exclamation point on the street. On the other side of the project - can't help but think of it as the "backside," unfortunately - the Radisson Hotel is going up. Concrete first floor, sticks up above.
Elsewhere, the Sexton continues to rise. Actually, the Portland, but it's part of the Sexton, so that's how I see it. You can see the lovely parking ramp on the bottom, with those punch-card windows so beloved of 60s and 70s architect. Same effect on the street as pouring boiling oil.
It's better than nothing, but I don't know who would want to live in this part of downtown.
The music cues for The Little Things in Life are all over the road, but they're much more 70s than 60s. This is not a good thing. They're taken from four or five batches, each with their own style, and they're dropped in without much regard for consistency or applicability. It's one of the things that makes The Little Things in Life unsatisfying, at first - the basics are all there, but everything's off. At first.
LTIL Cue #1. Feelin' groovy.
That just gives me hives. I see a Mikey-type little boy with a bowl cut playing with a puppy in a dog food ad. He's wearing a multi-colored striped shirt and overalls.
LTIL Cue #2. Slapstick, alas.
A slide whistle. Well, at least it's not wah-wah horns.
LTIL Cue #3. Then again.
Believe me, there's lots of them, and you're going to hear them all.
This organization was in the news and children's magazines a lot. And then it wasn't.
Nonprofit and nonsectarian, the organization began its work in 1945, with a shipment of CARE Packages to war-ravaged Europe. It soon extended a helping hand to the hungry in underdeveloped regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
During Mr. Goffio's tenure, CARE became one of the world's largest international relief and development organizations, with an annual budget of some $350 million to help people recover from disaster. Mr. Goffio took the lead in making self-help projects a priority and putting a food-for-work concept into practice.
This week's Bob & Ray sketch handles some Western cliches. I can listen to this one over and over.
Just Fancy Dan & Pliny.
What are they satirizing? No one today would know off the top of their heads, but people at the time got the joke. I didn't know until I was searching for something else, and found a reference to one of those long-running daily serials that just ground on, and on, and on. It was called "Just Plain Bill," and it ran for 23 years - from 1932 to 1955.
Three episodes remain.
Early morning Gotham romance, as it never happened except in ads:
Ooooh wow weee
This was why rock happened. Well, by then rock had happened; this was released in 1962. Billboard said: