The Arts should uplift us in times of trouble and they do. Sometimes the Arts also needs to clothe the Emperor. Or to point out that he is naked.
This is one of those times.
Unlike less than 28% of Americans polled and 60% of the United States Senate, I recognize the Stimulus Package as the Generations Ransack Americas Financial Trust Act.
Many experts, including Congress own Congressional Budget Office, say the stimulus bill will at best do no good.
Many experts, including me, say the stimulus bill will hurt the economy in the long run.
Apparently common sense makes more cents in the Arts than in Washington. I had some infinitesimally small hope that Congress would do what Congress does best: lock the grid and spend the remainder of this session worrying about Alex Rodriguez steroid use. Nonetheless the House vote was 246-183 and the Senate voted 60-38 to spend more in a single bill than the total cost of the War in Iraq. Interestingly, the G.R.A.F.T. Act is expected to cost less than the total cost of World War II, adjusted for inflation. President Obama signed the measure in Denver today.
The bill includes some potentially good news for the Arts since the $50 million of National Endowment for the Arts funding dropped earlier was preserved in the final version of the package approved by both houses on Friday.
Truth be told, I’d rather give up the stimulus and go back to the normal funding scramble. After all, the NEA appropriation is not “new” money; it is simply a restoration of an item that was cut.
The New York Times reported that Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY and Congressional Arts Caucus co-chair, said, “If were trying to stimulate the economy, and get money into the Treasury, nothing does that better than art.”
Arts advocacy groups report that every dollar of NEA money generates an additional seven dollars from public and private supporters. And every dollar in the local Creative Economy improves life here in Franklin County.
That means the NEA appropriation could have stood on its own merits as it has in past budgets.
When I think of art I think of oils hanging in museums or ancient pottery or statues of exagerated human likenesses from some bygone era. I have visited Europe many times and seen the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, the Winged Victory, etc.; as well as the classic paintings in Amsterdam and Munich. I was impressed, but not awed. I had seen them before in books; and since visitors are not allowed to palpate the objects, I came away only with the realization that they were larger than depicted on pages.
Truthfully I have never been particularly interested in American art such as shown in municipal Stateside museums and galleries — or Americana memorabilia representing any particular area or indiginous people.
I have no idea what it costs to house, display and protect
these artifacts; but I’m positive it is too much. Moreover, much of what is heralded as art only manages to meet the subjective definition of that word. In my opinion, much of it is trash.
I’m sure there is a place in modern society for the interests of the NEA — and surely there must be a way to financially sustain those interests. I am only one voice.
Trash or treasure, I would be content to view an 8 X 10 glossy of it from a library book — at a much cheaper cost. To misquote a famous critic: “I don’t know much about art, but I do know what I don’t like.”
> the objects, I came away only with the realization that
> they were larger than depicted on pages.
That is a truth but not the truth.
The truth is that seeing a live painting, hearing a live concert, or touching a sculpture gives us more than a litho in a book, a CD on the clock radio, or a snow globe in the kitchen.
> Truthfully I have never been particularly interested in
> American art such as shown in municipal Stateside
> museums and galleries…
And that is certainly a reasonable, reasoned opinion. Others would disagree. I happen to like some American painters–Wyeth and Blakely stand out–and dislike the work of others none of whom I will name. I feel the same about modern composers since I do not like the trend toward dissonance in paint or music.
> I have no idea what it costs to house, display and protect
> these artifacts; but I’m positive it is too much.
Probably but art is more than a picture in a book or on a wall.
> I’m sure there is a place in modern society for
> the interests of the NEA — and surely there must
> be a way to financially sustain those interests.
> I am only one voice.
> Trash or treasure, I would be content to view
> an 8 X 10 glossy of it from a library book — at a
> much cheaper cost.
Art is more than a picture in a book or on a wall and the cost of art is more than the cost of the materials or the cost of housing it.
I am an artist but I cannot paint like Andy Wyeth.
I sing in the shower but I cannot sing like Luciano Pavarotti.
I am an engineer but I cannot sculpt like Alexander Calder.
Without the Wyeths and Pavarottis and Calders and all the other artists great and small we would have less beauty, less truth, and yes, less society. I don’t care what the beer companies say, less ain’t more.
Society supports art that we might be more.
We also need to remember that, from the time Og drew the first charcoal bison on the wall of his cave, society has fed and housed and clothed and supplied its artists in much the same way society has fed and housed and clothed and supplied its spear makers. After all, I’m reasonably sure neither Mr. Poleczech nor I have personally supplied a single weapon to the Vermont Mountain Boys when they deployed to Iraq but they did get their materiel from us. See, society paid that bill, too.
And if you accept the need for art, you also accept the need to put it somewhere that we can gain from it.
Very good points. I don’t equate the defense of the nation to the deployment of the Wyeth Brigade. If the element attacks, the first thing I’ll throw at them is Andrew’s drawings and my Pavoratti CDs. If I can find an odd Og or two, they will be next.
Art is an excess. Like overpriced bottled water with a French name.