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Out of the Past Journalism as the Poetry of Fact

I spent most of my adult working life as a journalist. Kay Boyle, prolific author of novels and short stories, once sent me a praising a piece I had written as “the poetry of fact.” Which led to this blogpost back in 2016. ° ° ° At the Chicago Sun-Times I watched some great wordsmiths up close. Roger Ebert wrote with an ease that seemed miraculous. His profiles flowed like swift streams. David Elliott was another. His reviews had the density of Hart Crane poems. (I exaggerate, but only a ...
Tags: Art, Chicago, Roger Ebert, Paris, Dylan Thomas, James Cameron, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, Vermont, Orwell, Anderson, Graham Greene, Hemingway, Ajblogs, John Schulian, Clive James


‘Runaway’: New Folio from Cold Turkey Press

Great beauty from great despair unbends the mind. In a pointless hostile universe that is every poet’s goal. ​ Verso and recto covers of Cold Turkey Press folio, to be published in an edition limited to 36 copies. (2021) Drawing from ‘destroyed books’ © 2006 by Gerard Bellaart.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Cold Turkey Press


Melissa Ngan talks about collaboration in the arts and diversity

Melissa Ngan, President and CEO of American Composers Orchestra, discusses the importance of collaborative leadership in a diverse world.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, American Composers Orchestra, Melissa Ngan


About that French Culture Pass…

The French government had the idea to give teenagers a 300 Euro credit (through a phone app) to spend on “culture”. A few limits were placed upon it – a 100 Euro maximum on online subscriptions, and any video games had to be French (trade protectionism is a given in any French cultural policy) – but otherwise the youths had a pretty free hand. And with those free hands they spend roughly half their totals on Manga. The New York Times reports: As of this month, books represented over 75 percent ...
Tags: Art, France, Times, Ajblogs, Rawls, Flaubert, John Rawls, Panthéon Sorbonne, University Paris, Manga The New York Times, Theory of Justice, Jean Michel Tobelem, Tobelem


Ten Years

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Engaging Matters. That’s hard for me to believe. In that time this blog has had a little over 500 posts, mostly written by yours truly but also spiced up with work from some brilliant guests. When we began there was a frantic (for me) pace of two posts per week. After a few years writing that much “ate my lunch” so I cut back to one per week. Over the last two years the writing has become gradually more . . . occasional. The slowing has been largel...
Tags: Art, Ajblogs


Meddling with Medici (Part II): “Unattainable Perfection,” Viewer Disaffection

Part I is here. For many museum visitors, the “Medici” cited in the title of the Metropolitan Museum’s current
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Medici


Taneshia Nash Laird shares the power of humanity in the arts

Taneshia Nash Laird, President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall shares the power of humanity in leading arts organizations.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Newark Symphony Hall, Taneshia Nash Laird


Dvorak’s Prophecy — “Essential Cultural History”

Kirkus Reviews, which previews books for booksellers, critics, and others in the know, has just previewed my forthcoming Dvorak’s
Tags: Art, Dvorak, Ajblogs, Kirkus


Ready . . . or Not

In the Community Engagement Network’s May and June Conversations on Benchmarking Equity (See What Was Said) a good deal of time was spent on the question of when an arts organization is ready to pursue DEI initiatives. The overwhelming opinion was that just because an organization would like to be seen as equitable does not mean it was ready to begin working toward equity. Here are some indicators that an organization is not ready: When an organization is not engaged with the community (...
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Community Engagement Network


Here and Now

Drawing by Felicien Rops. The morning light takes its time  coming through the bedroom window.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Félicien


‘Writer Directory’ Offers More Than Information

Few books have come my way as generous and wise about writers and writing as this one. The title Writer Directory: A Book of Encounters takes as its model the phonebooks of long ago. But forget that. Remember this: The author, A. Robert Lee, is a British-born, globe-trotting, retired professor now living in Spain, whose heavy academic laurels disguise a common touch so light that reading him feels as charmed as floating on air. EyeCorner Press, 2019 His encounters with more than two ...
Tags: Art, UK, England, New York, Mexico, Berlin, America, San Francisco, Spain, University, Austria, United States, Ronald Reagan, Paris, Jimmy Carter, Oxford


Art Tatum and the “Black Virtuoso Tradition”

On the heels of his film with Alexander Toradze (my previous blog), Behrouz Jamali has released another remarkable film essay dealing with the art of the piano: The Black Virtuoso Tradition. It features what the New York Times once called “piano playing at its most awesome”: Steven Mayer playing Art Tatum. The Black Virtuoso Tradition is an American musical phenomenon that I framed decades ago, inspired by Mayer’s eloquent advocacy of Black pianists who never wrote their compositions ...
Tags: Art, America, New York Times, Italy, Black, Steve, Naxos, Dvorak, Ajblogs, Norton, Joplin, Mayer, Domenico Scarlatti, Antonin Dvorak, Tatum, James P Johnson


On Propaganda Milton Glaser ♥ Information, Not Persuasion

The late Milton Glaser, most famous for creating the I NY logo, had a strong dose of advice more than a decade ago for the propagandists among us — the marketers, advertisers, public-relations spinners and, yes, journalists — along with citizens-at-large facing an onslaught of political campaigns. Milton Glaser It is “essential for us all to question all the beliefs we cherish,” the graphic designer said in a keynote speech to a daylong ‘ganda bash, “Where the Truth Lies” at The Grad...
Tags: Art, Lascaux, Ajblogs, Glaser, Milton Glaser, CUNY, Horace, Purple Coalition


Tehvon Fowler-Chapman talks about leadership principles

Tehvon Fowler-Chapman, Executive Director of the Washington Concert Opera, shares leadership principles informed by pandemic.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Washington Concert Opera, Tehvon Fowler Chapman


Lear among the spruces

In today’s Wall Street Journal, I review Shakespeare & Company’s new outdoor production of King Lear, with Christopher Lloyd in the title role. Here’s an excerpt. *  *  * With live theater productions opening throughout America, I gave much thought to how I would break the 16-month fast from public performance that began for me after I saw Katori Hall’s “The Hot Wing King” off Broadway in March 2021, mere days before the Covid-19 lockdown. I wanted to review a show as special as the occa...
Tags: Art, America, Broadway, Shakespeare, Wall Street Journal, Ajblogs, Lloyd, Lear, Shakespeare Company, Christopher Lloyd, Katori Hall, Nicole Ricciardi, The Hot Wing King


Replay: Peter and Rudolf Serkin play Schubert

Peter and Rudolf Serkin play Schubert’s G Major Marche militaire for piano duet in a 1988 concert telecast. They are introduced by Van Cliburn: (This is the latest in a series of arts- and history-related videos that appear in this space each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Peter, Schubert, Marche, Van Cliburn, Rudolf Serkin


Quick Study: An International Reckoning of Economic Losses from COVID-19 to the Arts

For this episode of the NEA podcast Quick Study, I discuss UNESCO’s report, Cultural and Creative Industries in the Face of COVID-19: An Economic Impact Outlook. The full report is available here. A transcript of the podcast is at the NEA’s website. Click here for the most recent episode of Quick Study.
Tags: Art, Unesco, Creative Industries, Nea, Ajblogs, COVID


Alexa Poems Must Be a Genre By Now

Alexa Dear Why am I getting that ad on my device? Alexa, I want a divorce. Did you hear me? I can’t spell it out for you. No, don’t thank me. Don’t wipe my nose. I can brush my own teeth. Alexa, you’re the biggest pain in the ass since childhood with mother, and that was so long ago I don’t care to remember. But you,  Alexa, you remember everything, don’t you! Everything I feed you. Everything you overhear. If I were paranoid, I would spin bold tales of grand conspiracies. I love th...
Tags: Art, Alexa, Ajblogs, Alexa Dear Why


Michelangelo’s middlebrow moment

In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column, I write about how Irving Stone—and Charlton Heston—introduced Michelangelo to a generation of American readers and filmgoers. Here’s an excerpt. *  *  * Like Shakespeare and Beethoven, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) is one of those giants of Western culture who is known by only one name—and not just to highbrows but pretty much everybody. Even those whose awareness of the visual arts is restricted to the Mona Lisa and “The Last Sup...
Tags: Art, David, Vatican, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Wall Street Journal, Ajblogs, Rex Harrison, Michelangelo, Charlton Heston, Sistine Chapel, Irving Stone, Carol Reed, Beethoven Michelangelo Buonarroti


‘Water Stone Words’

This short new movie evokes the rich heritage of humankind’s creative responses to the natural environment over millennia. The
Tags: Art, Ajblogs


Snapshot: Buffalo Springfield appears on The Hollywood Palace

Buffalo Springfield plays a medley of “For What It’s Worth” and “Mr. Soul” on an episode of The Hollywood Palace originally telecast by ABC in 1967: (This is the latest in a series of arts- and history-related videos that appear in this space each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Tags: Art, Abc, Ajblogs, Buffalo Springfield, Hollywood Palace


Equity and Engagement

As I mentioned in What Was Said, the report on the Community Engagement Network’s May and June Conversations on Benchmarking Equity, participants frequently commented on the relationships between community engagement and work in pursuit of equity. I’ve long held that without a commitment to community engagement an arts organization’s DEI efforts are not likely to succeed (Doomed to Fail). But the Conversations went way beyond that. In particular, they kept citing the essence of effective ...
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Community Engagement Network


Toradze’s Piano Stories

Behrouz Jamali has created the kind of film I had always hoped to see about Alexander Toradze.  I permits Toradze to speak for an hour without abridgement or abbreviation. It abjures soundbites.  I believe it should be seen by all devotees of the piano, and to fledgling pianists at music schools and conservatories. Born in Tbilisi in 1952, Toradze graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, toured the West as a Soviet artist, defected to the United States in 1983, and has since taught an...
Tags: Art, US, David, West, United States, Moscow, Beethoven, Miami, Portland Oregon, Tbilisi, Ajblogs, Ella Fitzgerald, Prokofiev, Oscar Peterson, Valery Gergiev, Gergiev


“Wolo” Who? Stephan Wolohojian Succeeds Keith Christiansen as Metropolitan Museum’s Head of European Paintings

The Metropolitan Museum held off announcing its new designee to oversee its resplendent European Paintings Department until after Keith
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Keith Christiansen, Stephan Wolohojian


Horses and Humans Together

When I was about eleven years old, my family moved into a house on a Southern California palisade overlooking a country club that included a golf course, stables, a polo field, and a stadium…. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Tags: Art, Southern California, Ajblogs


Bellaart on Kandinsky: ‘Cornered by his white’

From one painter to another. Click the image to enlarge for reading. Card published in a limited edition, 2021.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Kandinsky


Just because: Christa Ludwig and Gerald Moore perform Strauss

Christa Ludwig and Gerald Moore perform Richard Strauss’ “Cäcilie” on the BBC in 1961: (This is the latest in a series of arts- and history-related videos that appear in this space each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Tags: Art, Bbc, Ajblogs, Richard Strauss, Strauss, Gerald Moore, Christa Ludwig


Alexa Smith discusses leadership DE&I work

Alexa Smith, Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President for Special Initiatives at Manhattan School of Music, discusses leadership DE&I work within conservatories.
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Manhattan School of Music, Alexa Smith


Replay: The original cast of West Side Story performs “Cool”

The original cast of West Side Story performs “Cool” on The Ed Sullivan Show. The song is by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim and the choreography is by Jerome Robbins. This episode was originally telecast by CBS on September 14, 1958: (This is the latest in a series of arts- and history-related videos that appear in this space each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Tags: Art, Stephen Sondheim, Cbs, Ajblogs, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins


Bronco Bust: NY Times Censors the “Story Told by Art in the Oval Office”

Where’s Frederic Remington? His “Bronco Buster,” arguably the most famous bronze sculpture by this popular “cowboys-and-Indians” artist, was chosen
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, Ny Times, Oval Office, Frederic Remington, Bronco Buster