It is not just another year that passes, but an entire decade. And what can be said of the past ten years, aside from the fact that it has been an extraordinarily bleak period. A stolen election, 9/11, an “endless war on terror”; promises of “hope and change” morphing into predator drone attacks, escalating war, rising unemployment, and tax cuts for billionaires.
I am reminded of T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem, The Hollow Men, where the modernist poet penned, “We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men (….) This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.”
While the circumstances I mention portend what can only be described as the New Dark Ages, I am simply sketching the outlines of empire in decline; a long drawn out process that is never a pretty sight. All that notwithstanding, a few good things were accomplished in the world of art, where despite the level of folly, a semblance of sanity might be said to prevail – well, almost. The following even dozen articles offer insight into some of the noteworthy events of 2010.
The Good Soldier Schweik (Feb. 4)
My review of a rare presentation of Robert Kurka’s antiwar opera, The Good Soldier Schweik, performed on Jan. 23, 2010, at Barnum Hall in Santa Monica, California on Jan. 30, 2010.
Obama Reduces Arts Funding (Feb. 12)
This article details the cuts made to the arts by President Obama in his 2011 budget. Budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were slashed by Mr. Obama, all while he increased military spending.
Millard Sheets: The Early Years (Feb 24)
My review of Millard Sheets: The Early Years (1926-1944), an important exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art that ran from Feb. 14 to May 30, 2010. Sheets was one of the leading California exponents of the social realist “American Scene.”
Journalism in Wonderland (March 12)
“The Los Angeles Times abandoned all pretense of being a serious newspaper guided by high journalistic standards, when on March 5, 2010 the daily ran a full color paid advertisement as its front page rather than headlines and photographs from the news stories of the day.”
American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life (March 27)
In this essay I review American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915, an exhibit of 103 paintings that recorded the American experience from the colonial period to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.
Siqueiros: América Tropical Press Conference (April 3)
My coverage of the March 31, 2010 Press Conference where the city government of Los Angeles announced its commitment to the preservation of the world famous Siqueiros mural located on L.A.’s historic Olvera Street.
BP’s Oil Slick: LACMA Woes (April 27)
BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico on April 26, 2010 – the beginning of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. This was the first article appearing on the internet in the wake of that catastrophe to bring further attention to BP funding the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Goya: Los Caprichos in Los Angeles (June 20)
My review of Goya: The Caprichos Etchings, displayed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Museum in Glendale, California, from May until August, 2010.
Let Me Tell You About MusicaLatitudes (August 7)
My essay details the abiding impact Latin America’s “New Song” movement has had upon my work as a visual artist.
Levi Artists: Lay Down Your Brushes (August 27)
Levi Strauss & Co., one of the largest clothing manufacturers on the planet, opened an art printmaking workshop in San Francisco. This article offers a critique of the ever tightening control corporations exercise over the art world and public space.
Siqueiros: Confronting Revolution & Censorship Defied (Sept. 25)
I was a participating panelist in A Print Dialogue: Siqueiros & The Graphic Arts, an event sponsored by the Autry National Center, organized by the José Vera Gallery, and held at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock, California. This article reviews the event, as well as the exhibition of Siqueiros paintings at the Autry – Censorship Defied.
The Madonna of the Napalm (October 6)
“While there are obvious differences between the Vietnam and Afghan wars, the parallels are striking. This article revisits the historic posters of the 60s that excoriated President Johnson for escalating the war in Southeast Asia.”