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Horace and Pete

louie-season-4-review_article_story_largeA little news in my inbox from the funniest man in America :

Hello friend guy lady or other,

Some of you are aware that, last Saturday, I launched a new series on my site louisck.net called “Horace and Pete”. I’m writing now to tell you some stuff about it….

Horace and Pete is a new show that I am producing, directing, writing, distributing and financing on my own.  I have an amazing cast: Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger and other guest stars.  Also Paul Simon wrote and performed the theme song which is beautiful.

The response to episode one has been great so far and there are more coming.  We are making them now and having a lot of fun doing it.

Part of the idea behind launching it on the site was to create a show in a new way and to provide it to you directly and immediately, without the usual promotion, banner ads, billboards and clips that tell you what the show feels and looks like before you get to see it for yourself.  As a writer, there’s always a weird feeing that as you unfold the story and reveal the characters and the tone, you always know that the audience will never get the benefit of seeing it the way you wrote it because they always know so much before they watch it.  And as a TV watcher I’m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion. So making this show and just posting it out of the blue gave me the rare opportunity to give you that experience of discovery.

Also because we are shooting this show in a multi-camera format with an emphasis on a live feeling, we are able to post it very soon after each episode is shot.  So I’m making this show as you’re watching it.

Okay so let’s talk for a minute about the five dollars of it all.  If you’re on this email list then you’re probably aware that I always make an effort to make the work I do on my own as cheap as possible and as painless as possible to get.  That’s why my specials are five dollars and that’s why I sold tickets to my last big tour here on the site, with our own ticketing service at a flat price with no ticket charges and we have worked hard to keep my tickets out of the hands of scalpers.

So why the dirty fuckballs did I charge you five dollars for Horace and Pete, where most TV shows you buy online are 3 dollars or less?  Well, the dirty unmovable fact is that this show is fucking expensive.

The standup specials are much more containable.  It’s one guy on a stage in a theater and in most cases, the cost of the tickets that the live audience paid, was enough to finance the filming.

But Horace and Pete is a full on TV production with four broadcast cameras, two beautiful sets and a state of the art control room and a very talented and skilled crew and a hall-of-fame cast.  Every second the cameras are rolling, money is shooting out of my asshole like your mother’s worst diarrhea.  (Yes there are less upsetting metaphors I could be using but I just think that one is the sharpest and most concise).  Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation.

Now, I’m not complaining about this at all.  I’m just telling you the facts.  I charged five dollars because I need to recoup some of the cost in order for us to stay in production.

Also, it’s interesting.  The value of any set amount of money is mercurial (I’m showing off because i just learned that word.  It means it changes and shifts a lot).  Some people say “Five dollars is a cup of coffee”.  Some people say “Hey! Five dollars??  What the fuck!”  Some people say “What are you guys talking about?”  Some people say “Nothing. don’t enter a conversation in the middle”.

Anyway, I’m leaving the first episode at 5 dollars.  I’m lowering the next episode to 2 dollars and the rest will be 3 dollars after that.  I hope you feel that’s fair.  If you don’t, please tell everyone in the world.

Meanwhile, we’re going to keep making Horace and Pete.  We’re going to keep telling you the story.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy it.  I’ll write you again later and tell you more about it.  It’s fun to talk about.  But for now I want to shut up and not ruin the experience of you just watching the show.

Here’s the link for the website.  Enjoy episode 2 of Horace and Pete.  We’re shooting it now.  You’ll get it on Saturday morning.

This person,

Louis C.K.

10: Professional Wrestling

Episode 10: Professional Wrestling!

This time the gang heads to Newark to see WWE Smackdown live! This is the first time any of them have seen professional wrestling live, and the most wrestling any of them had ever seen in their lives.

Why? Professional wrestling, love it or hate it, is massively poplular. With over 300 events per year and 36 million viewers in 150 different countries – people love professional wrestling! And the history of professional wrestling – goes back hundreds of years to Bunkum, Ballyhoo, sideshows, Punch and Judy shows, even Commedia Dell’arte! It pops up in the 40’s in the USA, Mexico, and Japan It’s part of the beginnings of the history of television!

Gorgeous George in the 1940s

Gorgeous George in the 1940s

While various leagues existed across the US, World Wrestling Entertainment eventually consolidated them and now hosts events across the world and airs them on television – they even have their own subscriber based cable channel.

“The WWE is the AFL of wrestling”

classic-wrestling

wrestling demographics

Check out the stats on the popularity of wrestling at the Indeed Wrestling blog

Memphis Wrestling TV Show:

Memphis Wrestling Full Episode 08-14-1982 Nature Boy Ric Flair vs King Jerry Lawler. Watch Rick Flair play the heel

Key Wrestling Terms

Heel (or the Villian) – In professional wrestling, a heel (also known as a rudo in lucha libre) is a wrestler who is villainous or a “bad guy”, who is booked (scripted) by the promotion to be in the position of being an antagonist.13 They are typically opposed by their polar opposites, faces, who are heroic or “good guy” characters.
In order to gain heat (with boos and jeers from the audience), heels are often portrayed as behaving in an immoral manner by breaking rules or otherwise taking advantage of their opponents outside the bounds of the standards of the match.

Face (or the good guy) – In professional wrestling, a face, babyface is a heroic or a “good guy” wrestler, booked (scripted) by the promotion with the aim of being cheered by fans.1 Faces, traditionally, will wrestle within the rules and avoid cheating (in contrast to the heels that use illegal moves and call in additional wrestlers to do their work for them) while behaving positively towards the referee and the audience.

Not sure about wrestling?

Read THE WORLD OF WRESTLING, from Mythologies by Roland Barthes – yes, Barthes “got” wrestling.

Want to watch some movies instead? Here’s two videos that can help you understand

Watch: Wrestling Isn't Wrestling – “A case study of longtime WWE superstar, Triple H, to explain why wrestling is an epic example of storytelling at its best.”

Watch: Beyond the Mat-Pro Wrestling Documentary – “A heartfelt documentary focusing on the lives of professional wrestlers and how their sport is not fake.”

Wrestlers we talk about

These are really worth checking out.

Rusev!

Since recording, we’ve learned Rusev was Russian last year – his intro videos included images of Putin – and changed to Bulgarian in 2015.

russianrusev

Bo Dallas

Bo Dallas

Bo Dallas – The most inspirational wrestler. ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS BO-LIEVE!

The New Day

The New Day uses the "power of positivity"... sort of?

The New Day uses the “power of positivity”… sort of?

Rolling Stone calls The New Day WWE Wrestlers of the year – “The two-time tag champs have transformed from preachy dreck to a source of constant entertainment as duplicitous positive-energy evangelists.”

Lucha Dragons

The Lucha Dragons

The Lucha Dragons – Acrobatic mexican wrestlers with an asian motif

Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns does The “Superman Punch”

Roman Reigns Superman Punch

Roman Reigns Superman Punch

Tyler Breeze

Tyler Breeze takes selfie's in the ring before and after the match

Tyler Breeze takes selfie’s in the ring before and after the match

Jack Swagger

Side note: “Fox News and various right-wing commentators including Glenn Beck claimed that Swagger and Colter’s characters were a mockery of the Tea Party movement meant to “demonize” the Tea Party” read more

The USOs

Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens – not necessarily the most “athletic” looking guy.

Kevin Owens

Vince McMahon knocked out

Vince McMahon lies knocked out

Vince McMahon, COO of the WWE lies knocked out on stage by Roman Reigns

Concepts we address in the show

Satire

Berthold Brecht

“If you took everyone in every Walmart and put them in a stadium, you’d have a wrestling audience.”

“This is the future of socialism right here.”

Relax – not everything needs to be perfect and the show will go on!

Repetition – have we underestimated it’s power?

Billionaires for Bush as wrestling heels!

Billionaires For Bush

Teaching, versus offering an opportunity to learn.

Women Wrestlers as a sign of progress

wwe-divas

“Wrestling teaches how to exist in a diverse society.”

Letters

Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions Minecraft Episode – we learn about Minecraft, but as Joe McKay points out in his letter, we didn’t actually play it. And being the player is important.

How do you include participation, change, and criticism without burning out?

Top 3 Pop Culture Picks

Lambert – Lip Sync Battle with LL Cool J

Dwayne Johnson shows Jimmy Fallon how to Shake It Off by performing the Taylor Swift hit. Jimmy hits back with a Harry Belafonte classic “Jump In The Line”.

Pat – Christmas! And we debate whether to keep Christ in or out of Christmas. Duncombe is for out, but not for the reason’s you’d expect.

Duncombe – Buying a gun. Yes, Duncombe bought a gun. And it was depressing.

Radio Lab Rhino Hunter – “Back in 2014, Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 for a hunting trip to Namibia to shoot and kill an endangered species.  He’s a professional hunter, who guides hunts all around the world, so going to Africa would be nothing new.  The target on the other hand would be. And so too, he quickly found, would be the attention.”


Steve Lambert, Patricia Jerido, and Stephen Duncombe

Steve Lambert, Patricia Jerido, and Stephen Duncombe

Check out more examples of artistic activism on our site, artisticactivism.org and actipedia.org.

Music: The Reigning Sound, “Stick Up for Me” courtesy of the Free Music Archive

The Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions on iTunes and wherever you get your podcasts.

More on the Center for Artistic Activism at artisticactivism.org, Stephen Duncombe at stephenduncombe.com, Patricia Jerido on Twitter, and Steve Lambert at visitsteve.com

ANPF Women’s Invitational Winning Playwrights Announced

ANPF Women’s Invitational Winners Announced

Three outstanding plays by noted playwrights selected for presentation.
March 25-27, 2016 festival honors under-represented American playwrights.

Ashland New Plays Festival announces the winners of its ANPF Women’s Invitational. They are Martyna Majok for Cost of Living (formerly Ropes in the Well); Lauren Yee for King of the Yees; and grand prize winner Jiehae Park for Hannah and the Dread Gazebo.

The Women’s Invitational will be held March 25-27, 2016 in the Music Recital Hall at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Dramatic readings of each play will be presented in both matinee and evening performances at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

As an effort to highlight critically acclaimed but unproduced work by leading American playwrights, the Women’s Invitational received 30 works from which ten finalists were selected in blind readings. ANPF Artistic Director Kyle Haden and The Kilroys co-founder Laura Jacqmin, who chairs the festival, chose the winners.

Says Haden, “It was tremendously exciting reading the finalist plays. All of them were truly impressive. I am so excited by our three winners and can’t wait to share these new stories with our audiences. We all know that women are vastly under-represented in theatre today, and have been since the beginning. We want to do our part to change that inequity. The Women’s Invitational will be a meaningful step for us in that direction.”

Additionally, the week will include an opening reception hosted by Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF); and Parity, a roundtable discussion with Jacqmin, host playwright EM Lewis, and the winning playwrights, moderated by Dr. Lue Morgan Douthit, OSF’s director of literary development and dramaturgy. The roundtable is open to the public.

More information is available at www.ashlandnewplays.org

Alchemical sludge

John Sabraw, “Axioma VII” (2015), mixed media on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches (McCormick Gallery)

John Sabraw, “Axioma VII” (2015), mixed media on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches (McCormick Gallery)

John Sabraw applies his alchemy to sludge, turning it into art by extracting pigment from it and then creating images of nature, under siege, autumnal, and weirdly beautiful. Turning poison into paint becomes a modern version of creating gold from lead. It isn’t just symbolic but a way to make cleanup a potentially profit-generating industry. An example of his recent work is on view at Manifest’s Secret Garden exhibition right now. Last year, Hyperallergic did an appreciative story on his use of toxic runoff to create pigments and offered examples of the finished work, as impressive as everything he’s done in the past. From Hyperallergic:

You can see the process in detail in a short documentary by Jacob Koestler, but in essence, the team takes samples from the most polluted areas, neutralizes the pH, then separates the concentrated iron from the clean water. As Kalliopi Monoyios reported for Scientific American last month, one goal of the project is to see if there’s a way that remediation could pay for itself through a sustainable product. Iron oxide pigments include familiar names like ochre, sienna, and umber, whose use dates back tens of thousands of years. In theory, production of pigments from the toxic sludge on a large scale could be marketable and support the removal of the pollutants as its own industry.

And what do I do now? Using Data Visualization for Social Change

Last week, the C4AA’s Steve Lambert attended the Responsible Data Forum on Data Visualization. In this article, Lambert discusses how data visualizations for social change can leverage emotion to achieve objectives.


Those who visualize data can be reluctant to sully themselves in the messy world of emotions and empathy. If your goal is social change however, not only is it required, but we have to go much further. We must aim to change behavior.

The question of whether data visualization can elicit empathy or compassion is not controversial in my mind. Though for many at last week’s Responsible Data Forum on Data Visualization (RDFviz), it was up for debate. I understand the commitment to rigorous analysis stemming from the practice of statistics and a belief that those trusted to interpret data should not contaminate it with their own biases. I find this admirable and agree to a large extent. However, I come from a different angle: as an artist making work that’s grounded in reality, but intentionally persuasive in an effort to change culture.

Translating dry reports and databases into a format that resonates with human beings is one of the main purposes of data visualization. Though it might be easier if politics were based solely on reason and the rational interpretation of the facts, this is not how politics is practiced — like it or not. Our politics, and humanity, traffics in emotion and affect. To make data relevant, it not only needs to be visual, it needs to be affecting.

I agree with Mushon Zer-Aviv, who wrote a short article for RDFviz arguing that data visualization could convey empathy. His example of Periscopic’s Gun Death Visualization makes a case for visualization that can be both factual and emotionally moving. Periscopic’s Gun Death Visualization is an excellent example of a data visualization that has emotional resonance. It provides enough information to leave one understanding both the scale of gun deaths and the profound impact and loss; both the math, and the humanity.

If you haven’t seen it, take a moment and watch this video version or experience the piece itself at guns.periscopic.com

The tone is solemn, it has it’s own pace, it conveys death, points toward the lost potential, and backs everything up with facts. It is an unqualified success in getting the participant’s attention and interest, communicating the issue and data behind it. It works emotionally, leaving one troubled.

Periscopic’s slogan is “doing good with data” — though if I’m only left troubled, isn’t there a bit of missed opportunity here? With such a powerful piece, can we do more good?

Data visualization for self-promotion, fun, or profit is measured on another spectrum, but when data visualization is being used for social change there are larger goals and a bigger purpose at play. We can use data visualization for more effective analysis. We are surrounded by information and need help sorting through it, verifying, analyzing, and finding the meaning and relevancy of that information. We can also use data visualization for advocacy. Periscopic doesn’t have to claim to be entirely objective or neutral in their presentation. They’ve opted for the dramatic, clearly making an effort to move audiences. But for these works to be even more impactful — to not just analyze problems or champion a position but help solve problems — it is critical for audiences to know what they can do: how they can act on the information.

When making data visualizations for change, we can ask: once the viewer understands the issue, what specific actions could they take? What would it require for someone experiencing this visualization to take the next step? And how can we incorporate the next step within our works?

Now, one may be tempted to dismiss determining how people should act and “issuing commands” as out of scope for the field of data visualization, but first consider the harm done when actions and behavior are not considered as an outcome.

There are many examples one could cite, but I’ll continue with Periscopic’s Gun Death Visualization because it is so profoundly moving. When watching it, I felt the reaction in my body. I saw more lines than I could count, extinguished as they arced across the screen, and knew there were many more thousands to come. My heart had already sunk in my chest when the month on the screen reached May. As the progression finishes at December, I may click around to view the stats another way, pick through more details, or click through to a news story about one of the deaths. At the bottom is a summary of “what this data reveals.” But ultimately I’m confronted with the devastating, and depressing reality of the shootings.

And what do I do now?

There is nothing for me to do.

There is nowhere for me to follow through on my outrage or despair. No government official to pressure, no legislation to support, no number to call, or organization to join. I’ve been more than convinced, I’ve been emotionally moved, and in this crucial moment I’m ready to do more. Unfortunately, through this powerful visualization, I’ve been confronted with a reality that I am led to accept, not change.

Without moving people to action, experiencing a visualization like this can be tremendously depressing and dis-empowering because it provides no agency for the audience. When we move people, we must offer a productive outlet for that motivation. Otherwise we confine people in compassion fatigue, frustration, and a resignation to the reality we present: evidence shows the world is colossally fucked, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. This lesson is learned and remembered. It leads people to be more cynical and less likely to take action on that issue in the future. If our goal is social change, then this can’t be the take-away we communicate to the world.

Once one sets a clear objective, to reduce gun deaths in this example, learning this reality is revealed as just one of the early steps. As seen above, good data visualization can expose people to the issue, capture their attention and interest, and even spur them to act for change. Data visualization then has an opportunity to lead audiences to act on changing that reality. Maybe even visualize what that changed world might look like.

How would Periscopic’s visualization change if the main objective was to reduce gun deaths? One possibility could be to compare the numbers for the United States against numbers from the same year for countries with different gun laws. The visualization could encourage people to fight to change campaign financing to weaken the gun lobby and increase democracy. The page could very simply include links to legislation or politicians to support, organizations or groups people can join or donate to, and major petitions to sign that would pressure politicians and effect real change. In fact, I did some quick research and found a few (see list of links below) and even a handy site called 30guncontrolactionsyoucantakenow.com.

Again, Periscopic’s visualization just serves as an example. To be fair, it’s been up for years and may have included such calls to action in prior versions. But that example illustrates a larger principle that applies to the whole field. Whenever a visualization deals with social issues and aims to affect change, it’s most impactful once the long term goals and intermediate objectives have been determined, as well as the most strategic actions audiences can take to make that change a reality. Data visualizations for social change are most effective when they consider ideal behavioral outcomes of the audience.

Again, one may be tempted to dismiss this as out of scope for those who create data visualizations. Although the list I made above wasn’t all that difficult to come up with, perhaps that’s a fair point. The ideas for outcomes I listed could probably be better because I’m not immersed in that world. Most people who do data visualization, like me, have a background in art or design, not in policy making or organizing.

If so, than at least one can recognize a blind spot and be sure to make strategic collaborations. Non-profits and NGOs ask for data visualizations because they understand that work is outside their skill set. Data visualizers can use like-minded organizations in similar ways. Rather than shoulder the task alone, organizations can help provide strategies and calls-to-action so effective data visualizations for social change have the most impact by leading people to effective, collective action.

Certainly creating accurate, clear, stunning, and even affective data visualizations is a formidable task. Adding ambitious goals and objectives may seem even more daunting. Though in my experience, determining good goals, objectives, and actions, and exploring, answering, and revisiting them regularly has made my work easier, gives rise to more inspired ideas, and has made my work stronger more effective.

Through moving people with data visualizations, we can help build movements for a better world. After all, if our goal is social change, let’s go after it.


Steve Lambert is an artist, Associate Professor of New Media at SUNY Purchase College, and co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism.

A list of some organizations and possible collaborators working to reduce gun deaths:

Darwin, science, religion, art, ice cream

WilliamsCollegeGopnik2

Adam Gopnik

Last month, Adam Gopnik, a regular writer for The New Yorker, drew an unusual connection between art criticism and religion in this conversation with Krista Tippett who hosts the On Being podcast. Before he got to that, he offered interesting thoughts on how he can be a devoted Darwinist and still take his Jewish faith seriously, as well as a husband who appreciates his wife’s Christianity. He named his children Darwin and Auden (after the poet, who was a Christian.) I’ve been bringing religion into this blog fairly often lately, against my better judgement, since it’s such a politicized topic now. I think painting and religious faith are close siblings. Schools of art, or fixed theories about what art needs to be, are maybe a bit more like organized religions. I’ll leave it to you, and maybe Kierkegaard, to separate the good from the bad in those last two sentences. (Jim Mott and I talk about this quite a bit, which reminds me that I still have to write about my conversation with him.) I see a parallel between art and faith partly because of the way both try to point toward the whole of human experience. Art does it with a quiet, indoor voice–at least the art I love. In contrast to organized religion, which seems to make a lot of noise now, genuine faith more often than not withdraws into silence. Art and faith attempt to draw attention to the entirety of life, the whole of things. How art does this is something only Proust and Samuel Beckett, of all people, offer suggestions that make sense to me, in a tentative way, but that’s for another post. The point is to trigger in the practitioner an imaginative and felt apprehension of the totality of life. For me painting at its best offers a certain kind of attention, a level of awareness, that combines gratitude, joy, affirmation, and a sort of impartial honoring of things as they are. The spirit of painting for me is: “before it’s gone, take a look at how amazing this apple is!” Painting is akin to meditation or prayer: a way of strenuously attempting to see what’s there in front of you, and inside you, as clearly as possible, without distortion. (Would that describe phenomenology as well?) And in both there’s a constant element of self-doubt, a questioning of whether or not what you’re seeing, and doing, is true or real or right or even just worthwhile.

All of this represents, in a different sphere, the striving at the heart of most faiths, especially the element of self-doubt. In contrast to how many people think faith means certainty, including a lot of believers. But to get back to Gopnik (who didn’t talk about any of this) he makes a point that art criticism, not art itself, is a practice before it’s a dogma–he got there by talking first about Darwin and religion. I think that distinction between practice and dogma works much better for art itself than for art criticism. Art is a practice that tends to spin off fixed principles, and schools, and prejudices against this or that in favor of that or this (the way faith splits up into antagonistic sects) but primarily it’s a non-conceptual way to see into the nature of things. Learning how to paint is learning how to be aware. It isn’t an activity that springs from conceptual origins (at least not the kind of painting I practice.) Instead of illustrating ideas, painting tries to show life–and show it in terms that can’t be translated into words or concepts and maybe, to some individual degree, in ways that haven’t been seen before. Dogma and ideas are beside the point. Practice is everything. Doing, not thinking.

This distinction between practice and dogma links back to religion. It’s the pivotal distinction of Karen Armstrong’s recent writing about God. She talks about how religion and faith are learned behaviors, ways of being in the world, that can’t be reduced to dogma, and have very little to do with the various “beliefs” which can be asserted as propositions about the world. Art integrates human experience though learned skills. Art doesn’t assert propositions. Faith works in the same way. What’s incredible about a great painting is that, rising up out of long practice, long learning of skills, you might get work that resonates with a sense of the whole of life and conveys what is true and good–as the artist strives to adhere to those things in something as simple as the way she applies her paint. All of these things are equally true, in a slightly different and more important way, for the discipline of a Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, or Christian. The goal is the same: to act in harmony with what’s real and true, through years of practice. The hope is to create an extremely humble, living relationship with the world beyond your head, as Matthew Crawford puts it, while being acutely aware of how difficult it is for your mind to remain aware of its own severe limitations and its default setting for despair, cynicism, and doubt.

Here is a sample of Gopnik’s comments. I’m puzzled by the genealogy he rattles off–I think I would reorder the isms a bit. Surrealism begat abstract expressionism didn’t it? But he makes his point:

Krista Tippett: How does your reverence for Darwin . . . influence your sense of religion?

Gopnick: I always see Darwin as the model of the active explanation, the ethics of explanation. It affects my own feelings about the universe because it’s demonstrative about the possibility that you can be completely committed to a rational, material explanation of how we got here without being committed to a reductive account of our own experience. You can believe that there’s a completely rational account of how we got here but you can never fully rationalize what we feel here: it’s central to Darwin’s distinction between two different kinds of time. It’s the hardest reconciliation to attempt. That is that anybody who, like Darwin, is committed to science is acutely aware of the limits of scientific explanation. The greatest philosopher of science in the 20th century, Karl Popper, always said the realm of science was small. There is a huge realm of human experience that would never be susceptible to scientific explanation. That didn’t mean it could be subsumed into the supernatural. But there were realms of what for lack of a better word you call spiritual or numinous experience, or simply the experience of sensibility, everything summed up in . . . songs and poems and novels and spirituals all the other ways we have of organizing our experience . . . he believed he had discovered the secrets of life, but nothing could explain the mysteries of living.

Krista: Which is also the confusion that brings us to the religious part of life–community, texts, teaching.

Gopnick: And practices. I’m trying to write a book of memoirs on coming to New York in the 1980s. I was in the art world in those years. I was getting a degree in art history, God help me. I realized then that understanding modern art really was like a religion in that it was a practice before it was a dogma. You could never really get it by understanding the way one picture had changed another, how cubism had created expressionism which created surrealism and so on. It was a practice of interpretation. That is something that is insufficiently well understood. What religion brings us is a practice, not a dogma. The idea of having a spiritual practice is one that’s completely compatible with having a skepticism about dogma. Science demands that we be skeptical of our own theories.

Gopnik doesn’t quite get to the heart of it: religion and art aren’t simply about “feeling” or “sensibility.” But that’s more a limitation of the language, rather than a fault in his view–these are the words you end up resorting to, for lack of better terms. BTW, on the subject of art criticism, the Entitled Opinions episode on Diderot touches on how he approached each painting he wrote about without applying any formal system to his critique or response. You’ll also learn he was crazy about ice cream.

Koch Quits!

Two days ago, in a big win for cultural institutions everywhere, it was announced that David H. Koch has resigned in his role on the board of the American Museum of Natural History.

You may be familiar with Koch, the ‘the fourth richest person in America’ the billionaire who has given millions in ‘philanthropy’ to the American Natural History Museum.

In 2014 scientists and environmental agencies signed an open letter urging natural history museums such as the Smithsonian to sever ties with David Koch and other industrialists who have supported right-wing campaigns to deny climate change.

This letter was the brainchild of artist collective Not an Alternative, which has sought to highlight the increasing influence of corporate money not just in politics but also in cultural institutions.

Center Co-Director Steve Lambert raised this issue in 2014 when he vowed to give any ArtPrize winnings to LGBT-rights organisations should he win to highlight the anti-gay connections of ArtPrize founder Rick Devos. Read about Steve’s battle with the Devos here.

 

Bill and Jean Stephens

HEARTSCOMBINED1-72Bill writes about an upcoming show:

Been busy here in the studio, entered a couple of shows and continue to draw everyday. Jean and I collaborated on two works that will be shown @Makers Gallery and Studio opening on Valentines Day. The show will feature artist couples who were asked to produce 2 works combining each other skills and concepts. I attached one of the works for you to see.

C4AA funded by the Rubin Foundation!

We’re extremely proud and excited to announce that we are among one of the first 46 initiatives to have won a funding grant from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation as part of their new Art and Social Justice initiative.

“We wanted social impact and we wanted quality art,” said Alexander Gardner, the foundation’s executive director. “We wanted to make sure we were finding excellence in both.”

We’re really looking forward to working with the Rubin Foundation as we continue to build on and share our research of artistic activism practices across NYC and the world.

Find out about the other organizations to receive a grant here.