Ya know, I just don’t get it. Comics are a foundation of contemporary pictorial art. I should not have to raid the public domain to publish my issue with comics. Tomorrow is New Years Eve. After that, I’m late for my new issue. Please send in a comic strip NOW.
An article in Hyperallergic focuses on a single frustrating example of dirty money tainting a public arts institution. A board member of the Whitney Museum owns a company that provides teargas to border authorities that have been gassing migrants. A manifesto calling for a town hall on the issue probably sums up the broader cultural and moral dilemma pretty well:
“Maybe when Kanders, his ilk, and their money are gone, the museum does indeed look like a very different place with a very different system of accounts. A place, for instance, run by and for cultural workers and their communities as a cooperative platform rather than a money-laundering operation for the ultra-wealthy. A place that de-centers whiteness and dismantles patriarchy. A place that acknowledges that it stands on occupied indigenous territory, and takes reparative measures. A place that provides sanctuary and self-defense from ICE. A place that repurposes the remnants of luxury infrastructure in order to build power and make art with and for the people. A place that is hospitable to the healing energies of sage rather than a refuge for tear-gas profiteers. A place that is built on radical love and relationships of care. A place that understands that conflicts can be points of construction. A place, in other words, that is undergoing a process of decolonization.”
The problem is not only endemic but systemic. The characterization, “a money-laundering operation for the ultra-wealthy” is precisely the core of public funding for any civic-minded, socially-good foundation. It is the compromise that, apparently, must be made. Certainly no mainstream art venue outside of a purely local and user-supported community center is immune. It is almost redundant to point out the hypocrisy that underlies all of the basic assumptions at the root of this system. We love our democracy but won’t fund it. The public sector is routinely beggared. We don’t even have to paraphrase to illustrate this. Grover Norquist, an eloquent exponent of the mindset, says it precisely and succinctly: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
A foundation is the most un-democratic institution in the world. It is a convenient moral rationalization and another method of tax evasion for the very wealthy. Foundations sidestep the political process whereby treasury funds are apportioned for public purposes through a process navigated by elected representatives. Instead, our “best” citizens get to pick and choose favorite boutique charities to bolster their brand and their stature. Funding cancer research is an example and a cliché. Billionaire Phil Knight co-opted half a billion dollars of Oregon taxpayer money with a strings-attached “gift” of matching funds to his Oregon Health Sciences University Knight Center Institute. The outrage over the Whitney Museum’s moral and financial entanglements is just and entirely beside the point.
I’ve left evidence before that I am a fierce fan of the public domain. The idea of the public domain as a principal of law is based on the assumption that the author is dead and that the public interest is not necessarily being preserved by protecting the claims of ownership of valuable cultural property to survivors or heirs of the author. (take a breath) With all due respect to the bereaved, I’m all for it. I don’t take this civic-minded principle for granted – I think that my resultant personal claim to such property is thin at best: with plenty of opportunity to abuse and exploit the now-public legacy. It’s easy to cross the line into hypocrisy, defending one’s “right of access” to such a fabulous golden hoard.
Whatever. Do you know about the Public Domain Review? They plumb the depths and bring discrete packets back up to the light of day – with the help of enlightened curators, researchers and lovers of the obscure and the timeless. They are themselves best in describing their mission. Read their story.
I will continue to hungrily receive their newsletter and continue to steal from the best.
Event Horizon is a home for literary and graphic arts and this is a call for submissions:
Event Horizon is seeking poetry, fiction, and non-fiction of many varieties.
Event Horizon is calling for graphic arts suitable for a 2D publication: illustration of any variety, photography and photography of craft work, pictures with stories comprising manga, graphic novels, comics and cartoons.
There is no fee for submitting nor is there payment upon acceptance. Event Horizon is published bi-monthly. The best place to start for any questions is the website and glimpses at back issues. Target publication date for Issue 7 is January 1, 2019.
The website, blog and free pdf downloads can be found at eventhorizonmagazine.com .
All submissions and inquiries should be directed to email@example.com .
Go the Home page or go here to purchase the print version of Issue 6. There is a link to the free pdf download on the Home page.
Here is a picture of a painting from one of the more recently discovered Ice Age caves at Chauvet. Regrettably, you will not be able to visit without the highest academic credentials. I haven’t published an article on the caves but I hope to soon.
I was drawn to his picture in the article in the New York Times. “Who is this guy? Never heard of him.” But of course I had heard of him or at least I had always loved his artwork without knowing who Edward Gorey was. A celebration and the release of a biography of his life are reported by Steven Kurutz in the Style section of the New York Times. An apparently celibate, closeted gay man who listed cats as the love of his life and replied “looking out the window” to a question about his favorite journey, he was occasionally photographed on the streets of New York in majestic finery including a full-length raccoon coat. Gorey died in 2000 at age 75.
Gorey’s illustrations are understated, macabre, and fiercely funny. He did honor to childrens’ books, various animations and the many other genres of art and literature that he illustrated. Gorey revered George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet. The new biography is Born to Be Posthumous, by Mark Dery.
Hyperallergic reports: Art Institute of Chicago Offers Thousands of Free, High-Resolution Images. That would be unrestricted access to thousands of images — exactly 44,313, with more to be added — under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. “This move is not unprecedented. According to Artnet News, the Metropolitan Museum of Art also made all of the public domain works in its collection available online back in February 2017.”
Here are the images from the Hyperallergic announcement.
I can’t forward notices of every exhibit or opening I would like to attend. There is always some point to be made or some hidden agenda to advance whenever I proffer such intelligence. For example, there is a solo exhibit at the Tate in London from 24 October 2018 – 24 February 2019 of the works of Edward Burne-Jones. He was among the last and best of the Pre-Raphaelites. I love the Pre-Raphaelites. This announcement is an opportunity to share the samples promoting the exhibit which can be found on the Tate website.
Contributing artists and writers can promote their work by placing full-page ads in Event Horizon at no charge. If you have not submitted your work to Event Horizon for consideration, you are invited to do so.
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