Quote of the week:
Mitch McConnell said, shortly before the GOP blocked a federal elections bill, that “African American” voters cast ballots at similar rates to “Americans.”
Speaking of cats out of the bag, our Mikey left us two years ago January 18th. Milo is still with us but has some health issues that require daily medications. Nothing we can do about his broken heart missing his brother. Connie took this shot as they loved to snuggle together. A lot.
Where does one begin to embrace or enjoy artwork when the artist is a murderer, misogynist, racist, or just an ordinary asshole? Do we embrace those who have repented? Who are we to be the moral judge and jury? Do we just separate the art from the maker somehow?
Erin L. Thompson’s essay in Hyperallergic took on this question late last year, saying we can act ethically when we marvel at an artwork produced by an immoral artist — even if the artwork is intimately connected with that immorality and even if the work itself makes us deeply uneasy. It is precisely through art that we can explore human darkness without falling into it entirely.
In the piece she also discusses a book titled Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies by Erich Hatala Matthes, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Director of the Frost Center for the Environment at Wellesley College. In essence he says Rather than shunning art made by those who have been canceled, shamed, called out, or even arrested, we should engage with it all the more thoughtfully and learn from the complexity it forces us to confront. Recognizing the moral and aesthetic relationships between art and artist is crucial to determining when and where we should draw the line when good artists do bad things.
These questions were brought to my attention as I ran across the work of Julius Klingebiel this last week, which I found visually striking. His work was drawn/painted on the walls of a hospital in Göttingen, Germany, when he was hospitalized there from 1951 to 1961. According to this article, For decades, there was no publicity or discussion about Klingebiel’s artwork; this changed in 2010 when a social-psychiatric research group in Göttingen began a research project that resulted in a book published in 2013. Subsequently, several expositions were organized: Göttingen (2013), Berlin (2014), and at the Gugging Museum (2015), this latter of which made use of a lifesize walk-in reproduction of the room.
Now how do you feel about the images when you are made aware that Klingebiel chose to become a member of the Sturmabteilung (S.A.), the paramilitary organization of the National Socialist (Nazi) party? And then in 1939, in a serious fit of anger, he killed his stepson and threatened his wife. In accordance with National Socialist policy he was forcibly sterilized, but he escaped the Nazi euthanasia program, in all probability thanks to the then director of the hospital. After World War II, although the reassessment of his case was required by law, for unknown reasons this was not done, so he was forcibly re-hospitalized without any chance to have his condition re-evaluated.
Pablo Picasso: Genius Or Just Another Misogynistic Pig? Some of both it seems. I can't help but be drawn to the power of his work...same with the work of Chuck Close. And R. Crumb. At least I don’t have to make the tough call to keep my original Picassos…
Let’s see, when I was nineteen I was learning to drink beer like a man, with manly men/boys in Manhattan, Kansas. (I didn’t drink beer until then so was catching up, I suppose) But here’s nineteen-year-old pilot Zara Rutherford who, on Thursday, became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. According to NPR, Rutherford's circumnavigation aboard her Shark UL plane took 155 days – two months longer than planned, thanks to loads of bad weather and visa holdups. Along the way, she crossed enormous stretches of desolate ocean and had to spend weeks in a tiny Siberian village. She also had to alter course to avoid North Korean airspace and wildfires in California. Dang cool.
Speaking of Manhattan, we watched the first episode of Somebody Somewhere the other night. It stars and is produced by comedian and singer Bridget Everett. The show is set in Manhattan where Everett is from — she says, “I’m from Manhattan, Kansas - the little apple. And my dad was mayor at one point, and then so was my brother many years later. So we’re kinda like the Kennedys of Manhattan, Kansas."
The New York Times wrote that the protagonist goes on a journey of discovery in a fantastical land, learns something about herself, then returns to a place of comfort by clicking her heels and saying, “There’s no place like home.” Of course, anybody east of the Mississippi has to use the Lyman Frank Baum reference for us hicks from the prairie. You know, tornados and shit. Watch the show if you can…
In another win for the Biden administration (yes, there were many during the first year of his administration and the Dems need to start touting it!) the American Forests website reported that The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) affirms a longstanding reality: America’s forests are critical infrastructure for our country. Even better, this legislation invests in forests with a breadth and scale to match the critical challenges of this moment, including natural climate solutions, wildfire, biodiversity, green jobs and more.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration on Tuesday announced a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to reduce the fire risk on up to 50 million acres that border vulnerable communities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, announced the new strategy in Phoenix, alongside Forest Service Chief Randy Moore and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly.
The Tucson Sentinel published a piece this week that says The report calls for a “paradigm shift” in preventing fires, shifting away from fire suppression and toward a combination of logging to reduce forest density and prescribed, controlled burns. “The negative impacts of today’s largest wildfires far outpace the scale of efforts to protect homes, communities and natural resources,” Vilsack said in a release. “Our experts expect the trend will only worsen with the effects of a changing climate. We need to thin western forests and return low-intensity fire to western landscapes in the form of both prescribed and natural fire, working to ensure that forest lands and communities are resilient in the face of the wildland fire that fire-adapted landscapes need.”
From the Arizona Daily Star’s David Fitzsimmons.