The first major group show of American artists in Cuba opened on Saturday, March 28, 2009. It’s called “Chelsea visits Havana.” No, not that Chelsea. Even though Ms. Clinton’s father was sympathetic to the frequent visits to Cuba by American art dealers, this show got its name from the Manhattan district where the 30 artists in the exhibit usually hang their hats and their work. (Perhaps ironically, the last big exhibit by American artists in Cuba was in 1986, during the Reagan Administration.)
A sculpture by Padraig Tarrant called “Castrobama” shows facing cutout profiles of President Barack Obama and former Cuban dictator Premier Fidel Castro. Predictably there is also a depiction of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevera, as well as “New Mount Rushmore,” a sculpture of the four Presidents of the original Mount Rushmore monument (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln) with the addition of — surprise — President Obama, assembled out of New York City Yellow Pages.
This is the first exhibition we made after Obama rose to power. This is a kind of lighthouse of the next process of the culture and the politics between Cuba and the United States,” said Aberlado Mana, curator of contemporary art at the Fine Arts Museum in Havana.
Aren’t you overjoyed?
Cuba opens first big U.S. art exhibit since 1980s [Reuters; March 28, 2009]
Art exhibition fuels US-Cuba thaw [BBC News; March 29, 2009]
Posted in Artists, Celebrities, Fine Art, Painting, Politics, Popular Culture, Sculpture
- Tagged Art, Artist, Celebrities, Museum, Politics, Pop Culture
For “Gay Icons,” a show of photographic portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery, 10 famous gays and lesbians, such as entertainer Elton John and athlete Billy Jean King, chose “icons” for the exhibit, based on their inspirational qualities and achievements. The sexual orientation of these role models was only occasionally a factor in their selection. For example, Harvey Milk, the slain San Francisco County Supervisor, made the list specifically because he was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.
So here’s a question: Why the exclusionary title “Gay Icons?” We can all be inspired not only by men and women featured in the exhibit, but also by the achievements of the 10 members of the selection panel.
Princess Diana, Mandela Labeled ‘Gay Icons’ in London Exhibit [Bloomberg.com; March 26, 2009]
Are you following American Idol this year? Is it just me, or does Top-10 Idol contestant Anoop Desai remind anyone else of actor/comedian Ray Romano?
President Barack Obama is known to rely on his teleprompter, even at press conferences, White House parties, and campaign-style factory visits. The machine behind the Man launched its own blog on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Now you can read the inside story straight from the digital voice of the One Who Speaks for the World’s Lone Super Power: BARACK OBAMA’S TELEPROMPTER’S BLOG: REFLECTIONS FROM THE HARD DRIVE OF THE MACHINE THAT ENABLES THE VOICE OF THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD
An unemployed woman in Tampa, Florida has spent her “down” time painting her 2004 Saturn Ion with Obama-inspired imagery. It took four months to plan the paint job, and two months to execute the design. With acrylic paints, she wrote “Vote for Change” on the rear bumper, “Barack Obama” on the trunk and added some political slogans about the need for change in recycling, alternative energy, breast cancer awareness and health care. There is lots of bold color: orange, red, white, blue, black.
Since December of 2008, and throughout this intense flurry of creativity, the artist neglected to make the monthly payments to Chrysler’s finance company. She has ignored their phone calls. As of now the Repo Man is probably out looking for the Saturn. It shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Artist’s Obama painted car to get repossessed in Tampa, Fla. [Chicago Sun-Times; March 10, 2009]
In January 2009, Brandeis University announced it would be closing the Rose Art Museum and selling off works from its collection, due to the University’s budget problems.
The museum was founded in 1961, with a gift of $1 million from the Rose Family, which funded construction of the building. Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz has said that the Rose would remain open for academic purposes, but would no longer serve as a public enterprise. The Rose family responded with a statement issued March 16:
Re–purposing the museum is closing by another name. It would not be the Rose. Any other understanding of the university’s current plan is misinformation. The administration wants to control money given to the Rose for museum purposes, to sell precious works of art, and to close the museum. We Object.
In a written statement by museum director Michael Rush, he expressed his “shock and horror at the university’s decision to close the Rose Art Museum.”
Art cannot be treated as a liquid asset. Seeking a solution to dire financial difficulties by selling precious art that was given (or bought) in the deepest trust between donors and the university (via the museum) is an aberration. History will record this as a desperate action that flies in the face of all intellectual and ethical standards. Brandeis is putting its intellectual capital and very credibility as an institution of higher learning on the auction block. No one wins here.
“What donor would give a piece of art that might be sold to pay for administrative expenses?” said Meryl Rose. “This was meant to be a public art museum when it was built. It can be nothing but.”
Rose family denounces plan to close Brandeis museum [Boston.com; March 16, 2009]
Museum Family Denounces Brandeis [NY Times; March 16, 2009]
Brandeis University to Shut Rose Art Museum [Art2u; January 28, 2009]
A new web site called badpaintingsofbarackobama.com posts unattributed paintings of President Obama without comment. A stately black and white image of Barack Obama has these words scrawled in the background:
I had a dream … This was it.
The online exhibit does not seem to include any images by street artist Shepard Fairey, whose star has risen parallel to the one-time candidate he successfully iconized. (Whether or not any of the ‘badbarack” images were copied from Associated Press photographs is difficult enough to discern so as to render the issue moot.)