Archive for the ‘public art’ Category

Art Criticism in Lubbock, Texas

April 30, 2010

Art Criticism in Lubbock, Texas

The Lone Star State’s authoritative aesthetic arbiters, the Young Conservatives of Texas, are protesting a sculpture on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock. They have mounted an instantaneous online petition a mere six years after the artwork was installed.

YCT says the work, “Tornado of Ideas” by Tom Otterness, commits sacrilege against the Masked Rider, a revered Texas Tech idol, depicting Him using a javelin to commit gross indecencies on a police officer. The work is also said to show two lesbians actually sitting together.


DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

March 26, 2009

DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

As part of its economic recovery effort, the DC Government commissioned $700,000 worth of sculpture for billionaire Theodore Lerner and his family. DC already built $611 million Nationals Park for the Lerners, who own the local Major League Baseball franchise, and the government wants to decorate it to suit the wealthy tenants. Who knows, this might even encourage the Lerners to actually pay rent on the stadium.

You can admire the artistic gifts your tax dollars bought for the Lerners at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the sculptures will be dedicated. RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free, so go see the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

Forbes estimates the personal wealth of Theodore  N. Lerner at $2.5 billion, but why spend your own money on art when the taxpayers will commission it for you?  The DC Government dead- panned that the baseball art belongs to DC and is only on loan to the Lerners, an assertion worthy of a Larry Neal Award for fiction.  The sculpture  is site-specific, so saying the art is on loan is like saying you don’t own the fillings in your teeth, you only rent them.


Now Showing at the Wilson Building

March 7, 2009

Now Showing at the Wilson Building

Sign up to see the magnificent collection of fine art at DC’s city hall, the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) at noon on Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

The permanent exhibition in the historic Beaux Artes building includes work by Lilian Thomas Burwell, William Christenberry, Manon Cleary, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Willem De Looper, Renee Stout, Lou Stovall, Alma Woodsey Thomas, James Lesesne Wells and other artists of importance, many of whom have lived and worked in Washington DC. The collection has been assembled under the auspices of  the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH).

The 70-minute tour of paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture will be led by DCCAH Art Bank Coordinator Beth Baldwin. Space is limited, so RSVP now. If you miss this tour, others are scheduled for June 24th and September 30th.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here.Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Mass Manilow Mall Maneuvers

March 3, 2009

Mass Manilow Mall Maneuvers

Managers of a New Zealand shopping plaza threaten to unleash the ultimate weapon against loitering teenage “Mall Rats”  — Barry Manilow. The facility will play tunes by the crooner over its public address system. “The intention is to change the environment in a positive way,”  Paul Lonsdale of the Central City Business Association told Associated Press. Mr. Lonsdale’s outfit manages the Stewart Plaza shopping mall in Christchurch.

Human Rights advocates are stunned. New Zealand is a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and may adopt the Optional Protocol. Recorded pop music was an instrument of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and at clandestine CIA “black site” detention centers.

Partial pop torture playlists are available; while none mention Manilow,  Neil Diamond’s “America” was featured on the Torture Top Ten and Top of the Psy-Ops Pops. Surely if one permits use of Neil Diamond, escalation to Manilow is virtually assured.


Vision Thing

February 17, 2009

Vision Thing

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) invited Washingtonians to a public meeting last Wednesday to provide input for a master plan for outdoor sculpture and murals, a Public Art Program “vision.”

We are neither ophthalmologists nor optometrists, but the event clearly indicates the DC government’s urgent need for Public Art vision correction due to:

Shortsightedness: The “public meeting” ran from from 5 PM to 7 PM, before many working people could get there. Other government agencies start public meetings at  6:30 PM or 7 PM (just look at the DC Government calendar). Want to go through the motions and avoid the hassle of having lots of citizens at your “public” meeting? Hold it earlier.

Distance Vision: The plan for site-specific art in DC’s streets and neighborhoods is actually being drafted by consultants from St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Fuzziness: The meeting’s maps, posters, slides, charts, and chats all featured the phrase “Creative Economy,” but none of the consultants or DC Government employees present would define the term.

Transparency: Selected “open house” guests attended “closed house” meetings before and after the open meeting.

Double Vision, Lack of Focus, Disorientation: The Environment and Tourism are not within the purview of DCCAH, but were prominent topics of the meeting, duplicating efforts of other DC agencies and DC-funded nonprofits. DCCAH is the only public Arts agency serving the District of Columbia; no other agency picks up the slack if it abandons that mission for others.

Intermittent Blindness: A written agenda, descriptions of (or references to) Art in Public Places guidelines or Best Practices and other documents were not visible.

Take the Vision Test.  See for yourself. Here is the “questionnaire,” the only document distributed to the few people at this pro forma “public” event:


DC Creates Public Art Program Vision in the District of Columbia

February 10, 2009

DC Creates Public Art Program Vision in the District of Columbia.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has invited Washington residents to “Get Involved: Learn About the Public Art Community Open House.”

When: Today, Tuesday February 11, 2009, 5PM to 7PM

Where: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (901 G Street NW, near Gallery Place-Chinatown and Metro Center stations).

How:To RSVP and for more information call or email: Deirdre Ehlen at (202) 724-5613 or

What: For more information, look here and here … well … not much more information, is there. No agenda has been provided; we will bring our own.

Background: DCCAH Public Arts ProgramsDC Revised Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 14 (Arts and Culture)


[Full disclosure: the writer worked for this agency many years ago].

Image by Mike Licht (with help from DCCAH and the State University of Iowa). Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Arts Funding. Gulp.

September 27, 2008

  Arts Funding. Gulp.

If you work in the nonprofit Arts Economy, take a deep breath. Ready? The Fannie Mae Foundation: gone. Distributions to most private and corporate foundations endowed by investment portfolios: zip, zero, nada; few grants from them this year. What to do?

October is more than the beginning of the 2009 federal fiscal year. It is National Arts and Humanities Month. Everyone who loves the arts needs to remind federal and local officials that the Arts Economy is an economic generator as well as a cultural resource. Artists and arts administrators need to check in with the funding pros at the Foundation Center for free up-to-date funding strategy and advice.

The Foundation Center has scheduled Funding for Arts Month events in October, webinars as well as events at the Center’s five locations. If you work with a nonprofit arts organization anywhere in the U.S., don’t miss the webinar Foundation Giving Trends: Focus on Arts and Culture on October 1, 2008, 3 PM-4:30 PM Eastern Time.

There is a webinar especially for individual artists (visual artists, graphic artists, performing artists, film makers, writers and photographers) seeking funding for arts projects on Tuesday, October 28, 2008, at 2 PM – 3 PM Eastern Time. Register for Grantseeking Basics for Individuals in the Arts here.


City Hall Art Collection

September 22, 2008

City Hall Art Collection

The District of Columbia City Hall Art Collection has added 28 visual art works, bringing the total to 203 works by 117 artists. The paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and photographs at the John A. Wilson Building were purchased through the Public Art Program of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

The new works are by: Wayne Edson Bryan, Lilian Thomas Burwell, Manon Cleary, Gene Davis, Willem De Looper, Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter, Janis Goodman, Kevin Kepple, Kevin MacDonald, Percy Martin, Paul Reed, Robin Rose, Molly Springfield, Di Bagley Stovall, Lou Stovall, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Dan Treado, Andrea Way, and James Lesesne Wells.


Man Threatens to Impale Himself on Calder Sculpture

July 23, 2008

Man Threatens to Impale Himself on Calder Sculpture

Mr. Yuan Fang, 66, of Flushing, NY threatened to jump seven stories into the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building atrium on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Monday night. The cause of Mr. Yuan’s distress is not known, nor the reason for his presence in the Senate building.


National Mall Improvements Cancelled

June 18, 2008

National Mall Improvements Cancelled 

On a sad day for the grandeur of our Nation’s Capital, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has rescinded maps showing the National Mall as a flood zone. City officials have promised that a stronger levee system will be in place within a year.

NotionsCapital has counted on flooding to improve the unspeakably hideous World War II Memorial unaccountably inflicted on the National Mall when it clearly belongs to Mussolini’s Rome.

FEMA: See how flooding improves the World War II Memorial? Please reconsider.

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts: it is not too late to atone for your grievous aesthetic sin. Lean on FEMA now and flood this ugly embarrassment with the waters of the majestic Potomac.


Image by Mike Licht, whose Daddy was in WWII, so spare us comments about the intent of the memorial. It looks horrible. Download a free image of the flood-improved sculpture here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,