Ruth Beckford, Often The Only Black Dancer In Modern Dance Companies, Has Died At 93

Beckford danced with the companies of Florelle Batsford, Anna Halprin, and Welland Lathrop – and “when Beckford came onstage, the audience would gasp in surprise.” In 1947, for the Oakland Department of Parks and Rec, she created the first modern recreational dance department in the country. – San Francisco Chronicle
Tags: DANCE, 05.18.19

The Vanishing Stars Of Bengali Folk Theatre

Jatra stars used to be major celebrities, but now they have to work second (or third) jobs to make ends meet. “Jatra originated in Bangladesh and the eastern Indian states of Odisha and Bihar. It’s a living and vibrant form of theater, usually performed on open-air stages, inspired by Hindu mythology, popular legends and contemporary events.” – NPR
Tags: THEATRE, 05.19.19

For Decades, Cuba Exported Radio Soap Operas – And Now Their Post-Revolution Successors Are Going Digital

Plot twists, bingeing, and deep curiosity about characters are nothing new. Cuba exported tons of radionovelas, as they were called, from the 1930s through the 1950s. After the Revolution, “Cuban emigrés in Miami began making original Spanish-language radio soap operas … that reportedly ran on more than 200 stations worldwide. The Latin American Library at Tulane University is now digitizing a whopping collection of those 1960s-era programs and encouraging academic study of Cold War soaps.” You...
Tags: AUDIENCE, MEDIA, 05.18.19

Fighting Visual Clichés About Africa

Aïda Muluneh once worked as a photojournalist for The Washington Post. That didn’t go perfectly. “‘Are you an artist, or are you a journalist?’ her boss asked.” By now, the answer is clear: “Muluneh’s art isn’t coy. It deals in high-stakes disparities: Africa as aspiration and Africa as abyss. Reconsider the continent, her images command, and they proceed to connect it to a genre-blending aesthetic that reconceives notions of place and otherness.” – The Atlantic
Tags: VISUAL, 05.18.19

One Talent Agency Breaks Ranks, Sides With Writers

Will this start some dominos falling or reinforce the agencies’ intransigence? “Verve, a young Los Angeles agency focusing primarily on writers, is the biggest agency so far to make peace with the opposition, though it is far smaller than the four major Hollywood agencies that are at the center of the fight.” – Los Angeles Times
Tags: MEDIA, 05.16.19

As More Commercial Movies Flood Cannes, Deals Follow

There is, however, downward pressure on the market – which may eventually hit actors, directors, and everyone else working on films in the pocketbook. And – let’s face it – Disney is a challenge. “U.S. distribution is still a big issue. There are fewer studios now that Disney has purchased Fox, and most of the major companies are more interested in remaking past hits or backing sequels to long-running franchises than they are with buying an unknown property in the script stage out of Cannes.” –...
Tags: MEDIA, 05.18.19

Thomas Nozkowski, Who Changed The Course Of Abstract Art, Has Died At 75

Nozkowski’s “small, insistent, richly hued abstractions upended the heroic scale of postwar New York art and helped push painting in a more accessible, personal and wryly self-aware direction.” – The New York Times
Tags: PEOPLE, 05.17.19

Reaching out with love

It’s time to stop being angry about classical music’s place in the world, and move toward acceptance. – Greg Sandow
Tags: AJBlogs, 05.17.19

LA MOCA Gets A $10 Million Gift To Make Entrance Free

A board member made the announcement of her gift at a quasi-40th birthday party for the museum on Saturday night. That fits with new director Klaus Biesenbach’s vision. “‘We are not aiming at having more visitors or larger attendance, but we’re aiming at being more accessible, at having open doors,’ Biesenbach said in an interview. ‘As a civic institution, we should be like a library, where you can just walk in.'” – Los Angeles Times
Tags: VISUAL, 05.18.19

There’s A Moon Rush On, And Science Fiction Is Partly To Blame

Or, if not to blame, then to illuminate how we understand our moon. “If technologies once found only in SF do sometimes become real they do not, in so doing, always cease to be science fictional. SF is not, after all, simply a literature about the future; it is a literature about the shock of new capacities and new perspectives, about transcendence, estrangement and resistance in the face of the inhuman. Its ideas shape and constrain the ways in which technological possibilities are seen, under...
Tags: WORDS, 05.18.19

Knopf Fires A Longtime, Famous Editor Of Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, And More

Longtime editor Gary Fisketjon, founder of Vintage Contemporary and a vice-president at the company, was asked to leave after a suspension and an investigation because of “a breach of company policy,” the company said. – The New York Times
Tags: WORDS, 05.17.19

Protestors March From The Whitney Biennial To Board Member’s Townhouse

On the night of the Whitney Biennial opening,” a crowd of over 150 activists gathered at the Whitney Museum for their largest action yet: a culmination of Nine Weeks of Art and Action, a protest series spearheaded by Decolonize This Place (DTP) to oppose Whitney vice chair Warren Kanders. In a surprise move, the protesters marched from the Whitney Museum to Kanders’s townhouse in Greenwich Village to end the night.” – Hyperallergic
Tags: VISUAL, 05.18.19

The Suburbification Of The Urban Landscape

Are cities urban anymore? Or are the suburbs moving in? New buildings across the country are offering parking, private entrances, “parks,” and other perks of suburban life – downtown. Yes, “these new buildings are designed for a very narrow slice of the population — those who can afford to spend multiple millions of dollars on a home — but it’s a slice of the population whose purchasing decisions affect all city dwellers.” – The New York Times
Tags: IDEAS, 05.18.19

As U.S. States Strive To Make Abortion Illegal, Romance Novelists Pledge To Write About It

Why? Because of some not so great romance novel tropes. Novelist Liz Lincoln: “We need to start putting abortion in our books. … As an alternative to marrying virtual strangers after a surprise pregnancy. As a part of character backstory. As a thing lots of people experience. … It needs to be as regular in books as characters with dead parents or green eyes. As a normal part of life, not as a moral lesson where women are then punished for their choice.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: WORDS, 05.17.19

Under A Hardline Government In India, Theatre Is Facing More Censorship, And Violence

Hardline Hindu activists, empowered by the 2014 election of Narenda Modi as prime minister, have been doing things like this to plays they deem unpatriotic: “Hours before the show was due to start, the crew said they were forced to escape the venue as a mob had gathered. They said they ran down back alleys and had to take side roads to avoid being attacked on a main road. ‘It wasn’t that people didn’t like our play, expressed their dismay and left. No. We were being hunted across the city,’ sai...
Tags: THEATRE, 05.16.19

Google Has Been Tracking Just About Everything We Buy Online

You know how many vendors want us to leave email addresses when we buy online? Well, Google knows all about that. It says it doesn’t do anything with the data. Maybe! “Google offers users a compromise that involves trading products and web services in exchange for data that the company will collect through a variety of means you may not know about and have little to no control over. That data is then used to help Google target ads, a division of its business that’s largely responsible for it be...
Tags: ISSUES, 05.17.19

The Endless Discussions Of Game Of Thrones Won’t Stop Tomorrow

The show, which has earned a lot more viewers in its contentious final season, “was a mass-market hit for the era of no social consensus. … It divided its audience from start to finish, right down to the matter of what a happy ending would even constitute. It gave its intense fandom multiple angles to debate as well as to enjoy: whether it kept faith with the popular novels it was based on; whether it reveled in brutality in the name of critiquing it; whether it well-served its female character...
Tags: AUDIENCE, MEDIA, 05.18.19

Machiko Kyo, Star Of ‘Rashomon’ And Many Other Films, Has Died At 95

Kyo was discovered by a film scout in 1949 while she was performing in a dance revue. She worked with Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi and Teinosuke Kinugasa, and she continued to act until about 20 years ago. Kurosawa once said “he had been ‘left speechless’ by Ms. Kyo’s dedication to learning her craft.” – The New York Times
Tags: PEOPLE, 05.17.19

U.S. Film Companies Haven’t Entirely Given Up On Foreign Films

It’s true that those movies don’t make much money. “The movies may be great, but the financial returns just aren’t there. If a foreign movie makes more than $2 million in the States, as Magnolia’s Shopkeepers and Amazon Studios’ Cold War ($4.6 million) did last year, that’s considered a big success.” But some studios – and definitely Amazon and Netflix – are interested. – Variety

Eurovision: The Netherlands Wins, Madonna Flops, And Iceland May Have Gotten Itself Banned

Let’s start with the most contentious thing: Iceland, whose song seemed popular on Twitter, displayed Palestinian flags while live cameras were on the band during voting. The contest was held in Tel Aviv this year, and that did not go over well with Eurovision officials. – BBC
Tags: MUSIC, 05.18.19

We’ve Long Imagined Artificial Beings. It Was A Useful Exercise. But Now We’re Close To Seeing It Become Real, Will We Be Disappointed?

Ian McEwan: “The ancient dream of a plausible artificial human might be scientifically useless but culturally irresistible. At the very least, the quest so far has taught us just how complex we (and all creatures) are in our simplest actions and modes of being. There’s a semi-religious quality to the hope of creating a being less cognitively flawed than we are.” – Edge
Tags: Art, Ideas, Ian McEwan, 05.15.19

What Public TV And Radio Learned About Members And How They Support Public Media

“The age of 58 — and whether a member is older or younger — is the generational divide between donors who want more on-demand programs and those who are less likely to know that those programs are even available. It also correlates to how much members are willing to pay and what would inspire them to pay more.” – Current
Tags: Art, Media, Audience, 05.15.19

What Does It Mean That Jeff Koons’ Bunny Just Sold For $91 Million? Anything?

Sebastian Smee: “What the sale of Koons’s “Rabbit” — an auction record for a living artist — is telling us with special force is that the question of valuation is not just about rationality or irrationality. It is, on a deeper level, redundant. It’s redundant because we are in a realm divorced from reality. Intentionally so.” – Washington Post
Tags: Art, Jeff Koons, Visual, Koons, Sebastian Smee, 05.16.19

The Non-Performing Musicians’ Agent: Is It Fraud, Incompetence Or Unrealistic Hopes?

“The combination of necessary professional arrogance, high hopes, and even bigger disappointment has allowed conspiracy theories to gain currency among the musicians who feel cheated by Evangelista.”  – Van
Tags: Art, Music, 05.15.19

Why ‘Game Of Thrones’ Has Been Good For British Theatre

It’s the same reason that Law and Order is good for New York theater, only more so — GoT has arguably pulled some new audiences to see, for example, some Christopher Marlowe and Sam Shepard. – The Stage
Tags: Art, New York, Theatre, Audience, Sam Shepard, Christopher Marlowe, 05.17.19

Musician Crowdfunding Site Heads To Bankruptcy And Musicians Scramble To Recover

The UK-Based PledgeMusic owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to artists and labels, many of them independents operating on small margins. An untold number of fans have also been shortchanged, because the projects they invested in remain unfinished, or caught in limbo. “There have been no good outcomes here,” Benji Rogers, a co-founder and former CEO of PledgeMusic, wrote last week in an open letter, “and I cannot bear that something that I created to benefit artists and fans has caused so much...
Tags: Art, Music, UK, Benji Rogers, PledgeMusic, 05.16.19

A New Tool Links The Arts To Measurable Social Impacts

Americans for the Arts CEO Robert Lynch says that his organization’s Arts + Social Impact Explorer “consolidates and highlights concrete ways in which the arts intersect with and have an impact on other sectors of society … [how, for example, the arts] help people with cancer cope with stress through painting, assist people with Parkinson’s increase their vocal strength through singing, and support patients undergoing treatment or unable to leave their beds with live, in-room performances.” – I...
Tags: Art, Issues, Parkinson, SJ, Robert Lynch, 05.15.19

Belgium’s Royal Museum Says It Wants To Confront The Country’s Colonial Africa Past. There’s Just One Problem…

“I went there a month later, and spent two days trying to access its famed music archives, and mostly just looking around. And at the risk of spoiling any big, revelatory climax, I’ll just tell you: there’s basically nothing in the museum that honestly confronts what went on in Central Africa.” – The Outline
Tags: Art, Belgium, Issues, 05.14.19, Royal Museum Says It Wants To Confront The Country

What Happens When Site-Specific Art Can’t Be Site-Specific Any More?

“This purist notion of artwork inviolably tied to its context, once a subversive strike against tradition and the marketplace, seems almost quaint now, as artists, dealers, museums and patrons interpret “site-specificity” in ever more elastic ways. The phrase itself has been co-opted as marketing speak in recent years: “site-specific” might even steal the crown from “curated,” the reigning art-world term applied to everything from playlists to pop-up shops.” – New York Times Magazine
Tags: Art, Visual, 05.17.19

Your Kid’s Smart. Brilliant Even. Chances Are (S)he’s Going To Fail Big Time. Here’s How It Happens

There are those whose abilities are missed by the limitations of IQ tests. And there are the many exceptional children who face barriers in later years because they never developed the interpersonal skills needed to succeed in the workplace or the wider world of social activity. – 1834 Magazine
Tags: Art, Ideas, June 2019